Man of Few Words
A conch shell lay upon the stand that stood
Between his easy chair and storm window,
Which faced the river where his piers held rows
Of boats to rent, with bait to sell, and good,
Strong fishing poles of bamboo and of wood.
And when he dandled me upon his knee,
This man of few words spun me fantasies
About the mollusk that became sea food.
His waterman’s rough hands mimed in the air
How some big, greedy starfish sucked its life
And cast its armor on the beach, right there,
Below the bulkhead: hands which once in strife
Shuddered with terror and a Gatling Gun,
And mowed the German ranks in World War One!