Clean Moult

Snakes and slithering come to mind.

I tell Briar about Marfa’s snake, about its skin that came off in one piece (she carried it into the kitchen with both hands offering it for inspection) and stayed elastic so you could stretch it out.

Spread the folds of a translucent origami accordion that used to cover the belly. 

We talk about the immortality of lobsters. 

Eyes stuck half closed by sleep and myopia, throat morning froggy, I turn my head to bring him into focus and see him try to recall an enzyme.

I learn that they aren’t immortal.

He describes the giant lobster in the dark depths.

I trace my stomach and thorax with my fingers, dominant claw sorer than the other from gripping the pole the day before and from lying still draped across Briar for the past few hours, palm on the curve of his warm velvet chest, feeling the rise and fall of his breath, his hand on top of mine, the veins between his knuckles casting relief in the light of a waning gibbous moon.

They keep growing, no senescence. They grow so large that they run out of energy to moult and disease adheres the shell to their bodies. On trying to shed it, the lobster gets stuck.

Eventually they rot in there.

“They’re probably susceptible to a lot of lobster cancers as well”, he muses.

Roll out of arms, out of bed, eat an orange, check your phone.

Texts from Alex, 8 hours apart: Jesus Christ 40k new cases today // Do you think fantasy/sci fi beings who live for aeons have a linear perception of time?

Consider the ecdysiast lobster.

On departing, I back out the door, bowing, gesturing my arms like a medieval court humpback (dressed in rags, presumably), dramatizing a tumblr joke I know only in retelling. “Goodbye my liege (I am at your cervix)”, and the door closes on Briar cheerfully flipping me off.

The air outside is delicious. The sun is shining, but it’s too early in the year for reliable birdsong. A line of people just short of appropriately distanced outside the bakery.

I look up more lobster facts at home.

“We need to keep a lobster in perfect hygiene”, says Saint E(rick/thanol), dispenser of the disinfectant wipe, bearer of hand sanitizer.

“It would grow huge, and all you need to do is take a picture of it and people will leave you alone.”

January 2022