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