Heatwave Cooks Mussels in Their Shells on California Shore

Benjamin Gucciardi

Pelagic, coated
	in a thin layer of film, 
the soft body of a mollusk
	shares myriad traits
with the human tongue. 
	Therefore, we pay great sums

to eat a plate of mussels, steamed, 
	or fried in white wine—
the meal is the fulfillment  
	of our not-so-secret wish
to destroy the self
	to get beyond it, 

to silence, at last, the voice
	that haunts us 
when we sleep.
	Listen, the voice says, 
I am trying to show you
	how elegant your face is
when you dream. Listen, 
	the voice says, as a boy zigzags
along the shoreline.
	His small footsteps crush scorched shells, 
which snap like the hinges 
	of a door slamming closed.

About the Author

Benjamin Gucciardi’s first book, West Portal, (University of Utah Press, 2021), was selected by Gabrielle Calvocoressi for the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry. He is also the author of the chapbooks Timeless Tips for Simple Sabotage (Quarterly West, 2021), winner of the 2020 Quarterly West Chapbook contest, and I Ask My Sister’s Ghost (DIAGRAM/New Michigan Press, 2020). His poems have appeared in outlets such as AGNI, American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, Harvard Review, Orion Magazine and Poetry Daily. In addition to writing, he works with newcomer youth in Oakland, California.