in the moments before
a restaurant’s doors open

before the frenzy
it can be as quiet as a cave at the bottom of the ocean

all is prepared and arranged
linens, candles, glasses ready for filling

for the seafood lovers, stacks of bibs
hinged metal shell crackers, slender forks for fine picking

against the wall, painted with a blue-green undersea scene
in the bubbling glass tank

the mottled-brown lobsters, round-eyed
handcuffed claws, flesh-filled tails

crowded and befuddled
in their prison of endless corners

waiting to be among the chosen
lowered, eyes first, into salted, boiling hell

tail knocking against the pot
slowly turning as red as the devil’s tongue