In the Narragansett, it is said
that eighteenth century men
could not define the quahog,
debating in the state senate,
whether clam was vegetable,
mineral or animal, despite
the fact that on their tables
it was food worth favoring.
Vegetable, perhaps, because
it seemed to grow on ocean floors
but would be dislodged with
difficulty, like some plants
rooted to the shore. Mineral?
only if the thing inside expired
so shells opened themselves
to the wash of salt waves,
losing color in strong light.
Animal, yes, the truth of it,
like ourselves, but simpler
in design. Did it think?
debate, define, decide?
Maybe not, but worth claiming
kinship because it has a heart.