All perfectly legal―just
a tank in the market
crammed with lobsters, each
with serial number marked dpi NSW
on a label tied with string. Some tags
are branded with a flower
like the red cap on a banana.
Take your pick from spiny black crustaceans
(don’t worry―they’ll be prettier in the pot).
Some are restless, upended.
Could they be attempting
to escape from the tank?
Perhaps it was like this
on trains to Treblinka,
when people, stamped with numbers
from the Warsaw Ghetto’s Umschlagplatz
huddled at the cracks
of overcrowded railway trucks,
vying for ventilation,
grasping onto life until the chambers
and the screaming.
Now miles from the markets,
I can’t blot out those creatures
climbing on each other, trying to find
a spot to settle. Not being sentient,
they won’t know the end.
There will be noise.
Trapped air expanding in their shells
will begin to escape through the gaps.
They’ll become pink butterflies.
They will not feel a thing.
Hazel Hall is an Australian poet and musicologist. She has published work in many journals and anthologies. Recent collections are: Step by Step, a tai chi collaboration with Angie Egan (Picaro Poets 2019), Moonlight Over the Siding (Interactive Press 2019) and Silver Fugue (Picaro Poets 2018) for the School of Music Poets.