About Women Somehow

About Women Somehow

Somewhere there is an oyster
or a clam or, more likely, a mussel,
that has pushed, one-footed,
out of the shell, until, after a long tread trailing
bearding threads, it finds itself
in a cascade of drought–

the flow is like
a waterfall– as if it stood, lip-skinned,
behind iridescence as high
as a canyon–
only what falls before this mussel
is ash.

It is a creature of sweeping
tides, but it’s walked on water
for so long and
so far
that the sea has turned
to rock, and now, to broken
rock, so that if it wants a drink, it needs
to weep

or sweat,
collecting wetness
in a picture of nacre held only
in mussel memory (the shell
of a shell.)

Though, honestly, the mussel barely looks back
to that blue-black age, since, in truth,
the water was always rock, and the mussel has always
walked, and yes, this sounds, oh,
so melodramatic,
but that is just how it is
for some mussels.


10th poem for April–yes, it’s a strange one, and a draft–I’ve changed it many many times and it’s still weird–for Sherry Marr’s prompt on With Real Toads to write something about strong women– 

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19 Comments on “About Women Somehow”

  1. Sherry Marr Says:

    It takes muscle to be a mussel, and you have captured her world so exactly, you took me right along with her, as she sweated and slithered. I remember standing by big rocks at the ocean, hearing all the clicking and realizing the rock was covered with LIFE, shells forged on, all clicking and hissing. Quite amazing.

  2. I think I need to mull this one. I get a glimmer, I think, of what you intend but still not clear. I DO admire this draft though.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      No worries–it is very abstruse. I think I am feeling a bit tired and victimized at the moment–so am thinking of women in this way–and also really in a kind of internationalized sort of struggle, women working so hard. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to get. k.

  3. I love the idea of “mussel memory,” and I definitely get the sense of unseen, unheralded, courageous struggle.

  4. M Says:

    makes me think of that Squeeze song – Pulling Mussels from a Shell.. but then again, I’m a bit loopy ~

  5. Rosemary Nissen-Wade Says:

    Lovely allegory; an absorbing read.

  6. Sanaa Rizvi Says:

    This is stunning..! 🙂

  7. The sustained metaphor is mesmerising. Images crowd into a beautiful wash of water and rock and the precious shell…the Venus rising depicted so long ago in medieval paintings, but only now securing some kind of reality. Stunning weirdness. It works.

  8. hedgewitch Says:

    I love the symbolism of that hard shell, the tentative (but so springy and tough) foot, the cascade of ash, iridescent–like a scarab beetle perhaps ? or the nacre the narrator speaks of, built up from layers of pain and struggle–to me it says–by the very use of the word mussel, with its sound-alike meaning–in women there is a great resilience and strength but the world often forces a diminishment/marginalization of that strength by relegating it to a lower order—anyway, I felt very strong currents here of struggle, defeat, pain, and a certain element of victory as well–forgive if I have misread. I think this is one of your very best poems, k–and often at that level, they are opaque at first, but become more and more luminous as we work with them.

  9. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I’m dumbfounded at the perfection of this poem, Karin. It is so damned clever, and heart-breaking, and all so familiar but who would have thought all that could be done with mussels?

  10. I love this… and yes it was not lost on me.. fits perfectly for me.. In Swedish mussels are seen as muted (I think you talk about clams in the same manner), which does make sense to me… the play on muscles is great too.

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