“The Crabs” by Ann Bailey

The tempest came to butcher Cain,
Its coast she would encroach.
The raindrops tapped the window pane
To signal her approach.

The crabs felt her calamity
And climbed out of the dregs—
A rasping, raucous family,
Each member on ten legs.

The interloping arthropods
Were quick to seize the bay,
And on the beach, a lightning rod
Threw light upon their prey.

A seaside shack of Spanish stone
Stood sturdy in the squall.
The door swung when the wind was blown
And beckoned to them all.

They swarmed the beachside bungalow
And made their home inside.
They found the shelter apropos
For keeping out the tide.

And each began to wonder why
They’d lingered for so long
In dusky, frigid waters by
A seaside warm and strong.

The squatters in their swindling
Found rations foul and fresh,
For in the bedroom, dwindling,
Was gray, mephitic flesh.

Pincers picking at the bones,
The creatures took the beast.
A sailor snared by Davy Jones
Became their fetid feast.

But digging through his every part,
An extra piece they stole.
For when they ate the fisher’s heart,
The crabs consumed his soul.

Day by day they mimicked Man
Within the savage shrine.
A beastly and unnatural clan,
Departing from the brine.

They spoke just as the fisher had
In hollow, husky sounds.
An intonation low and mad
Of voices through the grounds.

They drank his drinks and played his games
And read his magazines.
Sentient, they took on names
As rain came through the screens.

The tempest finally touched the plain,
Each villain warm inside,
But wind and rain devoured Cain,
Not one allowed to hide.

The sinners in a tick of shock
Dispersed throughout the room,
And God above expelled the flock
Back toward the ocean’s womb.

It washed away their human ways,
Absorbed their every fault.
They slipped back into early days
Of blood and mud and salt.