Pellet Petals by David P. Miller

panama mark pitt images

Pellet Petals
by David P. Miller

As the tide recedes
the sand crabs reappear. They
recreate their holes
filled in at high tide,
doorways plugged with silt. Crabs
view the beach with caution.

Crabs scrape the sand with
inch-long strokes. High tide
brings fresh food, now
washed across the beach.
Crabs feed, taking what they can
from each scrape, discard the rest
as pellets. They move
sideways from their holes,
scraping, feeding, discarding,
then return. Sinuous loops
of short strokes drawn into the
sand. Each stroke dotted
with a tiny sphere.

As morning goes on
a manifestation of
petals takes shape surrounding
each hole, a corona now
become a corolla. Or
a mandala of hunger.
Drawings made by crabs.
Hundreds of lines per drawing,
dozens of crabs, ten
thousand pellets spread across
the beach. Thickening,
overlapping, the flowers
become network diagrams,
impenetrable, each crab’s
exit a point of synapse.

Late afternoon, and
as the shadows move
a thick branch arches
across the sand. Volunteer
shoots bearing pinnate leaves sprout
from the old wood. Here
a silhouette, a wheel of
shoot spoke and leaf radius,
lies near a sand flower drawing,

profligate of wildly traced
petals. They echo.

The tide advances.
The crabs retreat below ground.
High tide erases at once
scrape marks, pellets, even the
holes. Sand mandalas
washed out to sea.

PHOTO: Isla Boca Brava, Panama. Photo by Mark Pitt Images.

Originally published in Meat For Tea, June 2012. Included in the chapbook, The Afterimages (Červená Barva Press, 2014).

central america

NOTE: Isla Boca Brava is located off the Pacific coast of Panama in the Gulf of Chiriquí, specifically in the Bahia de Muertos, a coral reef. It is about one-half mile from the small mainland village of Boca Chica. Boca Brava connects to Isla Palenque by way of a narrow land bridge.

MAP: Central America, showing its location in relation to Mexico and Colombia (South America). Panama is indicated in pink.

Cala Mia - on rocks near the beach

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: in February 2012, my wife and I took a trip to the Cala Mia Island Resort, Isla Boca Brava, Panama. The crabs created their sand drawings every day.

PHOTO: The author shooting photos of sand drawings made by crabs, Isla Boca Brava, Panama (2012).

david_p_miller-2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David P. Miller’s collection, Bend in the Stair, was published by Lily Poetry Review Books in 2021. Sprawled Asleep was published by Nixes Mate Books in 2019. His chapbook, The Afterimages, was published by Červená Barva Press in 2014. Poems have recently appeared in Meat for Tea, The Poetry Porch, Muddy River Poetry ReviewBoston Literary Magazine, Constellations, The American Journal of Poetry, Lily Poetry Review, Nixes Mate Review, Unlost, and The Telephone Project. He is a member of the Jamaica Pond Poets. His poem “Add One Father to Earth” was awarded an Honorable Mention by Robert Pinsky for the New England Poetry Club’s 2019 Samuel Washington Allen Prize competition. With a background in experimental theater before turning to poetry, David was a member of the multidisciplinary Mobius Artists Group of Boston for 25 years. He was a librarian at Curry College in Massachusetts, from which he retired in June 2018.

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