by Moneta Goldsmith

In order to cook live crabs, here’s what you do. Place each crab in a small-to-medium-sized bucket. Find two large blocks of ice.

Place the blocks of ice inside the bucket that contains the crabs. Cover the bucket that contains the crabs tucked beneath the blocks of ice, and cover it completely. After a few moments of crab confusion, the crabs will believe it is winter, and they will start to fall asleep.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the stove, boil a pot of water. It is important to perform this step with caution and out of earshot of your unsuspecting companions. As a rule, crabs have mercifully poor hearing, especially while hibernating, but they are highly evolved in matters of spirituality—possibly gnomic—even by crustacean standards. It would be wise to whisper a short prayer before lighting the second burner on the oven, just in case.

When the water boils, reach beneath the blocks of melting ice. If necessary, hold a wax candle in your free hand while performing this step. The use of smart-phones and flashlights is not recommended due to a widespread belief that aquatic species, bottom-dwellers especially, are more sensitive to radioactivity than are humans. Anyway, candles are safer. There are always more of them.

When you transport the crabs, one by one, into your pot of boiling water, do so quickly, and without resting too much between crabs. I repeat: for the purposes of this exercise, the window of time between crab convoys must be minimal. Under no circumstances should the candle burn to its wick before you are finished with the transport. This is for your sake, but also so that the crabs don’t have time to warn their friends, or say goodbye to their relatives, or cry.

It is well known that crabmeat is tenderer if the crab itself suffers in its final hours, but this is a trade-off you will have to make for the sake of science.

Rinse out the bucket for signs of bacteria and other crab offerings. Place the lid on top of the boiling water. Try not to turn away when the crabs turn white and slack and then, dinner. You will respect yourself more for this once night falls and you unplug your record player for the evening, the coarse sound of the record still scratching against the record needle, and all the whiskey in the world has not been enough to rinse away the metallic aftertaste of crab and crab tears.

Carry a book to the bed stand. Do not wonder too long whether rooms were designed to be this quiet or crabs were meant to make so much noise under blocks of ice, even for that brief moment, with their little slanted eyes half shut, pretending to be asleep.

Moneta Goldsmith is a writer, teacher, and the author of two ‘poetry’ chapbooks, including the forthcoming They Haven’t Invented a Pill for This Feeling Yet. His writings can be found in such magazines as Sparkle & Blink and Gorilla Troop, among others.