Tullia, The Oyster Woman

  Tullia, The Oyster Woman

He saw her there, alone, before he crossed

the Guadalquivir, on the other river bank

beside the mountain of oyster shells that grew

through her long years. Each shell was husked apart

by calloused fingertips and the ripe tongue

was torn outward and flipped end over end

across the ancient sun to fall in her basket.

She was even older than the river and measured

her age by fossilized sediment beds.

When she rose up to greet the stranger, she

stood like a black, gutted-out coastal tower,

and he, who had passed over the yielding delta,

stepped forward, channeling the divining rod

of his mind into her subterranean lake

of inner life. Her soul grew wings and flew

away as a butterfly, but he took out

his net and unsheathed his pins and pursued her.

The gust of his unwelcome presence startled

the black and white storks nesting in the pines

and launched them upwards into the bright sun.

So much dislodged radiance and feathers rained

down between them, that it was as if the earth

had spoken, shielding with black and white light

the inner oyster of her virgin soul.

And he was blinded, snapping shut his sight

of the white pearl of ancestral wisdom within

her depths, locked up from those who had forgotten,

which left her as she had always been, immortal.

By Anthony Walstorm

Publishing Credits, “Tullia, The Oyster Woman”

  • Linkway, Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, England, 2005
  • The Mid-American Poetry Review, Warrensburg, Missouri, USA, 2006
  • The Seventh Quarry, Brynhyfryd, Swansea, Wales, 2006
  • Weyfarers, Guilford, Surrey, England, 2005
Posted in Sanlúcar Delta Poems.