Not muscle as in strong, but mussel as in
the blue-black stone that opens to orange flesh.
Axel, your kindness reminds me of those moments
when my brother and sister and I waited for the tide
to pull low, and in the flat that was left, lifted snails,
horseshoe crabs, fiddler crabs; watched bodies retreat,
sometimes killing them, sometimes throwing them
back to the water. Mussels we usually killed, not
believing our father when he said people eat them,
and we would hit a mussel with a rock for it to break
and for the orange and pink to show. It sounds cruel
but it was not. It was quiet. It was unquiet. It was a body
meeting another body. It was a body returning to water.
It was the color of the sky over the city when it is snowing.
How many things we wish we could define.

MONICA WENDEL is the author of No Apocalypse (forthcoming from Georgetown Review Press) and the chapbook Call it a Window (Midwest Writing Center, 2012). She teaches English at St. Thomas Aquinas College, and in spring 2013 will serve as the Kerouac Writer in Residence in Orlando, Florida.