from
Big Purple Garden Paintings
Philip Rush


Percebes

Despite the Ventaxia,
which strains at the air, throbbing like a klaxon,
the whole house smells of the sea.
It is a fog coming ashore in the kitchen.

They’re preparing a celebration dish,
a kind of barnacle. Which has a name all
of its own, but which looks like a fist
of witch’s fingernails.

You tear away a finger,
peel it back, crack it
open, & there, like the untanned ring
beneath your real ring, is the pinky bit

of flesh you eat, for its mild briny
moistness. They tell you about the collectors
dangling in oilskins over slimy
rocks on the Galician, the Asturian shore.

You try to taste the danger they’re
enjoying. You find it unexpectedly sweet.
You breathe the smell of the sea, its iodine air.
Their body language conveys how much of a treat

this is. And, out of the sea-fog, the kitchen
sea-fog like the sea-fog in a children’s story,
where it shapes knights in armour or wizened
old men or other kinds of sorcery,

a form solidifies; wipes her wet, black hair
from her eyes, gently drifts the beads
of water from her breasts, and stands tall there,
in the kitchen, her hips dangling seaweed.