Jubilee! Jubilee! cries the barefoot boy,
splashing through the bathwater-warm surge of high tide.
People carrying buckets, nets, gigs, and washtubs
rush toward a mass exodus from the murky deep,
of blue crab, shrimp, flounder, stingrays, and more,
to the sandy shores of Mobile Bay.
Crustaceans by the hundreds, pinchers waving,
are climbing over teeming piles of slippery carapaces,
only to wind up steamed, ice-cooled, and swallowed
by tourists and locals alike.
And for days afterward, the oily odor of
deep-fried flounder will hover over Mobile
in a thick, lip-smacking haze.
What a gift to receive the earth’s bounty
with such little effort on our part,
though some might say
a starved soul is not so easily filled.
For now, however, we won’t speak of hungers left unsated
by fresh seafood seasoned with paprika, salt, and bay leaves,
served on platters with a lemon wedge
and sprigs of forest green parsley,
or straight from the pot or pan
— not while our barefoot herald
is harvesting fist-sized shrimp, his face still radiant
with joy and the roseate blush
of a Jubilee dawn.
From “A Sun Inside My Chest,” Press 53, © 2020 by Terri Kirby Erickson.
Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry. Her work has received multiple honors, including the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award, and has appeared in numerous literary journals, magazines, newspapers, anthologies and other publications.