“Horseshoe Crab Fandango” by Nancy Krim
Head to tail to back to belly, you begin…
spin salt sand into shell. No one tells
you, you just know skin hardens into what protects.
Remember to lie low beneath the tidal surge,
keep still, up to your slits in sand.
But always and inside in spite of you and your glossy shell,
the body grows beyond its own protection.
Moon shifts, bulges on her axis.
You awaken, short of breath:
skin’s too tight
The skeleton you wear outside for armor
binds the heart,
constricts the lungs cramped stomach cries for air.
After all that brave and dizzying spinning
suddenly you cannot breathe to grow.
How to leave what shields, the spikes that save,
starting again over and over?
Shrinking is the only way at first:
inside the softness of your body,
the part that knows how to, flows, released.
It’s the sliding out that makes you cringe:
what if the shell doesn’t split with the press of your wanting?
What if you don’t know how to lift and bend?
But it does, you do, you inch out raw,
shed the whole of that other coating,
the barnacled and the brittle parts:
tendons of claws, membrane of ears…
And because you are sea-born sand-shifter,
daughter of transformations,
you recommence your wild, spinning fandango:
hide, harden, sleep, grow, shrink,
slide out into your most constant self,
shedding the shell again and again and again.
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Nancy Krim Artist Statement:
I spent my working life as an English teacher, guiding high school students to an
awareness of the power of words, both as tools of self-expression and as pathways to exploring
themselves, their world. Though teaching was my day job, writing was always my passion. I
wrote to find myself and to save myself.
Over time, I found that poems were the most natural containers for my thoughts; I learned
all I could about the possibilities of poetry and developed the confidence to turn my classrooms
into writing workshops. I earned an MFA in poetry while teaching full time, used my summers to
study and write.
My purposes as a poet/writer have changed over time, but some constants remain: I write
to resurrect what has been lost, to capture what is striking in the present—either strikingly
beautiful or terrible.