You’re gilled but till the soil
like any earth-snug vertebrate.
You never read the manual.
Your armor slick and essential,
your antennae, your pincers—
you off-put glibly, confound
propriety. Late spring,
and your mud chimneys
turret up from storm-marshed
backyards. No one invited you.
You don’t care. You feast
on what’s desiccated or deliquesced.
Detritivore, you know
there’s no shame in a name.
Someone is calling you mudbug,
someone is calling you crawdad,
someone is calling you nightmare-in-the-yard,
and you don’t give a good goddamn.
Build your towers high, little beast.
Flummox the mowers, taunt dogs,
turn stomachs. Take what you want,
your rotting leaves, your worms.
Dig deep for the water. Then
glisten to the surface again,
vulgarly, audaciously alive.
Catherine Pierce is the author of three books of poems, most recently The Tornado Is the World (Saturnalia 2016); her new book, Danger Days, is forthcoming in October 2020. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, the New York Times, American Poetry Review, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series, and elsewhere, and has won a Pushcart Prize. A 2019 NEA Fellow, she co-directs the creative writing program at Mississippi State University.