Upturned in the sand, a horseshoe
crab flails the air, its curved carapace
formed more than 400 million years
before horses evolved and were shod.
Ten eyes mounted on back, mouth
and spiked tail orient the crab when
it swims, but not here, now, beached
on Lemon Bay’s shore. Harvesters
trawl oceans, scan low country
spawning beds, round up these donors
and deliver them to labs. There scientists
siphon the blue blood that detects
contaminated needles, tainted
joint replacements. A gallon
fetches sixty thousand.
In the US, workers drain
only a third, mark shells to foil
a second capture. Crabs plucked
from Asian waters:
bled to death, sold for bait.
Kakalak, 2017, Honorable Mention.