Poetry Sunday: “Crab Feed,” by Kathleen McClung


[From the WVFC Poetry Archive. First Published July 7, 2019.]


                         for my father, 1936-2008                

My stepmother tells us come hungry, come able to eat
gumbo and crab, peach cobbler. She mails us tickets
with smiling cartoon crabs, cursive letters: No Host Bar.
Music. Raffle. A funeral residence close to the freeway,
one of many sponsors, tackle and telephone throughout
the left hand edge. No Exterior Alcohol on the fitting.

Tom jokes he’ll give me a tutorial on the fitting
method to behave at a Catholic church dinner. My plan: eat
slower than typical, nod agreeably, anchor a serviette throughout
my lap, accumulate Mardi Gras beads. I doublecheck: our tickets
nestle between some fives and ones in my pockets, the best way
I safeguard Giants tickets, coupons for Clement Avenue Bar

& Grill. However these are friendlier paperwork one way or the other, no bar
codes to be scanned, simply cartoon claws, a knife in the fitting,
fork within the left. My stepmother flooring all of it the best way
to the church in her Scion. I virtually yell, “Eat
my mud!” out her backseat window. We’re outlaws. No ticket
tonight. We hurtle into the parking zone, snag the one area left throughout

from the doorway festooned with crepe paper. Above us, the cross
unsways within the twilight. She locks a crimson bar
onto her steering wheel, we hear the engine tick
for a second, and it happens to me that everybody should write
a poem a couple of church crab feed finally. “Let’s eat!”
Tom virtually yells and swishes his palms collectively in that endearing method

of his. She’s joyful we’ve come together with her. I can inform by the best way
she finds our desk, our final title, hers and mine, in ink throughout
butcher paper on the Formica. She’s introduced all the fitting instruments to eat
this meal, unpacks them whereas Tom orders wine on the bar:
particular bowls and bibs, little burners to soften butter good.
I’m positive I’ll win a raffle prize—that spa gown?—purchase ten tickets

in a strip, like carnival rides. I fling my numbered ticket
stubs right into a wire tumbler, luck buzzing by way of me the best way
it does typically once I least count on it. We’re doing the fitting
factor, the three of us. Worship takes all types. I look throughout
rows of heads and beads. Tom balances chardonnays from the bar,
my stepmother lights candles under the burners. We’ll eat

in disposable bibs, hear for digits, redeem extra drink tickets throughout the bar.
A lady—is she 20?—consuming to my proper will speak about rehab, the person upstairs.
“Technique to go,” I’ll inform her and nod over the shells we’ve damaged.


“Crab Feed” gained the Grand Prize within the Ina Coolbrith Circle 98th Annual Poetry Contest in 2017 and first appeared within the 2018 problem of river Sedge: A Journal of Artwork and Literature. Reprinted right here with permission of the writer. 


Kathleen McClung is the writer of two poetry collections, The Typists Play Monopoly (2018), obtainable here, and Virtually the Rowboat (2013). Her work seems broadly in journals and anthologies, together with Mezzo Cammin, Unsplendid, Naugatuck River Evaluate, The MacGuffin, cahoodaloodaling, Forgotten Girls, Sanctuary, Hearth and Rain: Ecopoetry of California, and elsewhere. Winner of the Rita Dove, Morton Marr, Shirley McClure, and Maria W. Faust nationwide poetry prizes, McClung is a Pushcart and Better of the Web nominee. Affiliate director and sonnet choose for the Soul-Making Keats literary competitors, she teaches at Skyline Faculty and The Writing Salon in San Francisco. At Skyline, she directed Girls on Writing: WOW Voices Now for ten years, welcoming poets and fictionistas of all ages. McClung is the 2018-2019 Brown-Handler writer-in-residence at Mates of the San Francisco Public Library. Writer picture credit score: Hilary Buffum.

View a video of the writer studying in March 2015 at Bookshop West Portal here, and browse her January 2016 interview with Evan Karp here.


Poet’s Be aware

In a bizarre postmodern method, “Crab Feed” echoes Emily Dickinson’s poem, “Some preserve the Sabbath going to Church.” My sestina tells the story of attending a Catholic church fundraiser one evening with my accomplice and my stepmother. Each had been raised Catholic. I used to be raised a mixture of Methodist, Presbyterian, and Unitarian, and I lean in Unitarian instructions now; my accomplice’s a UU minister. Regardless of some preliminary trepidation, finally that evening I discovered the crab feed exhilarating—really a type of worship. Alone in nature, Dickinson noticed the sacred in a bobolink and an orchard. Surrounded by individuals sporting bibs and cracking open shells at lengthy Formica tables, I noticed the sacred too.


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