Author’s Note: “The poem began with a prompt—to show the beauty of something ugly. Having lived in the DMV all my life, and recently read a history of the Chesapeake Bay, I thought of the oyster. It is not attractive, but it is vital to the bay and, of course, delicious to eat. The poem imagines life from the oyster’s point of view.”
I am not beautiful. No one thinks me
charming. I am covered in crust and muck.
Male and female, swooning across the bed
with milky curls of semen and egg cloud.
I survive with my mouth closed and carry
life on my back—soft snails with their pink fuzz,
cushion moss with green roses
sticking to the calcium underside.
Then, untethered from this bar, I float
exposed and iridescent. I am not
beautiful. Interrogate me on the half shell.
Finger my mantle and gills that filter
the sea’s impurities. Will I remember my life
before I was stolen from that private cave?
Jona Colson’s poetry collection, Said Through Glass, won the 2018 Jean Feldman Poetry Prize from the Washington Writers’ Publishing House. He is also the poetry editor of This Is What America Looks Like: Poetry and Fiction from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia (WWPH, 2021). His poems, translations, and interviews have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Writer’s Chronicle, and elsewhere. He teaches in Maryland and lives in Washington, DC. Website: jonacolson.com
Delmarva Review, Volume 14, is an independent collection of new poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. In this, its largest edition, editors selected the writing of seventy authors that stood out from thousands of submissions during the year. The review is available in print and digital editions from Amazon.com and other major online booksellers, as well as from regional specialty bookstores.
The journal is a 501(c)3 nonprofit literary publication with funding support from individual tax-deductible contributions, sales, and a public grant from Talbot Arts with revenues from the Maryland State Arts Council.