The Heron’s Nest Award
The northeast edge of North America is mostly a rocky coastline from Massachusetts north to the Maritimes of Canada.
There, just offshore in fairly deep and very cold water is found the treasured object of eaters and chefs alike: Homarus americanus, the lobster.
a small boy
taps the lobster tank
Through the marvels of air transportation and chilled-water display tanks, a "boy" encounters the big,
living crustaceans of this haiku. The sales display could be in a restaurant or large supermarket most anywhere in the US or around the world.
When cooked, their color changes from their original mottled brown and green to the bright red of some maple leaves. Their default name is from
the most productive fishery, "Maine Lobster." Fished with baited traps connected to buoys, H. americanus is the king of many related lobster species.
Having more meat than their "spiny" cousins from other continents, those from Maine are also often preferred for succulent flavor.
Tapping an aquarium is fairly natural to children— to see the occupants move. These objects of curiosity probably do not react. On their own, they do move to get a good position, up on other captives or preferably alone in a corner as they would do instinctively
back on their Atlantic floor. They are aggressive and cannibalistic, and with two attacking claws of surprising power and sharpness,
can defend themselves in their own element. A careless fisherman could lose a finger to a large specimen. They are not genetically
prepared to have their weapons closed by special heavy rubber bands. This keeps all others from harm, but may keep the "boy" from full enjoyment.
Still, they have eight other small legs, two wiggly antennae, and a muscular flat tail with flippers which makes them either "cool" or "yucky" to an observer.
Improbably they meet. The child has a first experience; a lobster can see the boy's face and fingers but cannot comprehend.
The haiku poet has shared with us a powerful mood. Lobsters are sold all months, usually not fished in January and February for voluntary
conservation and reasons of dastardly weather, but this setting is late autumn. As the tank's contents are pulled out to be steamed,
or wrapped for customers to take home, it is indeed nearly winter for the crustaceans. My interpretation may seem to tiptoe close to
personification or ascribing mood awareness to the animal, but not necessarily so. We may share the boy's curiosity or frustration and,
with Joyce Clement, readers may become aware of either a time of life ebbing or the ennui of living in a box.