“Freshwater Mussels of the Upper Midwest” by Martha Silano

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Freshwater Mussels of the Upper Midwest

Heelsplitter, Pigtoe, Higgins Eye:
the names say almost as much

about the namers as these creatures
clinging to pilings. Little Spectaclecase,

Fatmucket, Pistolgrip: who says Joe
wouldn’t know poetry if it slammed him

on the foot? Deertoe, Hickorynut, Pimpleback:
69% imperiled (don’t blame the namers, blame

sediments, logging, run-off. Invaders displacing
natives). Elktoe, Snuffbox, Purple Wartyback,

Fawnsfoot, Rainbow: I did not know their larvae
attach to the gills of a host. Neglected to consider

the fulgent brains of those unschooled in verse.



Martha Silano’s books include The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, winner of the 2010 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize and an Academy of American Poets noted book of 2011, and Reckless Lovely (Saturnalia Books, 2014). She also co-edited, with Kelli Russell Agodon, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, Kenyon Review Online, and New England Review, among others. Martha edits the Seattle-based literary journal, Crab Creek Review, and teaches at Bellevue College.

Photo Credit: Lexi Clarke