Poetry Wednesday: Reincarnation


Who would believe in reincarnation

if she thought she would return as

an oyster? Eagles and wolves

are popular. Even domesticated cats

have their appeal. It’s not terribly distressing

to imagine being Missy, nibbling

kibble and lounging on the windowsill.

But I doubt the toothsome oyster has ever

been the totem of any shaman

fanning the Motherpeace Tarot

or smudging with sage.

Yet perhaps we could do worse

than aspire to be a plump bivalve. Humbly,

the oyster persists in filtering

seawater and fashioning the daily

irritations into lustre.

Dash a dot of Tabasco, pair it

with a dry Martini, not only

will this tender button inspire

an erotic fire in tuxedoed men

and women whose shoulders gleam

in candlelight, this hermit praying

in its rocky cave, this anchorite of iron,

calcium, and protein, is practically

a molluskan saint. Revered and sacrificed,

body and salty liquor of the soul,

the oyster is devoured, surrendering

all—again and again—for love.

by Ellen Bass
Listen to the poet read "Reincarnation"
courtesy of The New Yorker