Poem- 19 (5.2)

Teesta Review: A Journal of Poetry, Volume 5, Number 2. November 2022. ISSN: 2581-7094

Crab City

--- Judy Anderson



Tiny creatures scurrying out of reach,

Burying themselves in the sand.

Quick! Another one into the bucket!


The memory is as clear as if it was yesterday.

It was one of our many long, hot summer days, when my brother and I decided to scour the tidal pools for tiny sand crabs. We picked them up and they tickled the palms of our hands. Some jumped to safety while others surprised us with a tiny nip. We studied them closely and could see their menacing nippers, little legs and small round bodies. They were sandy-coloured and came in all tiny sizes, from five cents in size to twenty cents. We were addicted to finding them and putting them into our buckets.

We scoured the pools and watched them scurry away or bury themselves in the sand, but if we were quick enough, we could pick them up and drop them into the bucket on top of each other in enough water to keep them alive. We walked along the beach addicted to this adventure and decided to find and collect one hundred tiny crabs.


One hundred tiny crabs emptied onto the sand,

Crab city piled high,

Each one rushing sideways back to the water to safety


Some years later, another group of children, in the same place but in different times, wanted to try the same adventure. They had heard the story and wanted to do it as well. There was the eldest – skinny, tanned legs and sun-bleached hair, piggy-backing her brother who didn’t want to walk on the slimy seaweed and who was also fearful of nips to his feet. He was carrying the bucket, ready to land on a safe sandy spot to collect these little precious creatures. The youngest was tagging along behind, never wanting to miss anything that her siblings were doing, and maybe the bravest of them all.

They too, collected one hundred sand crabs and walked to the sandy beach to empty the bucket and watch what happened next. Their squeals of delight could be heard as they, too, made a crab city that began as a castle and quickly dissolved into tiny running machines scurrying for home.

And now I watch my children’s children, crouching down, fascinated with the tidal pools to see what they can find – starfish, shells, sea urchins, small fish, and even, once, they found a blue -ringed octopus. They shout to each other with excitement as a new curiosity or creature is discovered. There aren’t as many sand crabs now, they are still there but it might take a lot longer to find one hundred.

And as I watch, I reflect on the excitement and pleasure playing in the natural world. Its simplicity, its authenticity, its lasting memories. We don’t need the latest gadget or thing to find fun and excitement in discovering the world, or in making up games and challenges, or just enjoying being with others.

I love to watch the children, to hear their chatter and squeals of delight, to watch them laugh together, enjoying their simple lives. They may grow up facing challenges and struggles, but I am sure they will remember these sunny, playful, family times and return to tell their own stories to their own children one day.


Tiny crabs returning to home and safety

          Carefree children growing up and, one day, may do just the same. 


Interliminal Encounters: Indian and Australian writers in po(i)etic dialogue, eds Amelia Walker and Aden Burg