January 2023

Oyster Knife, 2022

At the front of my parents’ house is St. Catherine’s Sound. It’s a mile-wide indent into the banks of the Lower Potomac River in the state of Maryland. The water is shallow, maybe only 6 to 12 feet deep. There are sandbars and there are oyster beds. One of my earliest memories is of my Dad shucking oysters by the backdoor sink. Its autumn, of course. Oysters are harvested in autumn. I remember standing amongst the coats, hats and scarves that hung there while watching Dad, smelling wood smoke, dog and corn. Even inside the house there was a bite of the raw cold that November brings. My Dad would open the oysters, scrape them out and put them into a quart jar. The shells would slowly fill the sink. He’d go through a bushel in less than an hour. I never really liked oysters, but I loved watching him shuck and I loved the unusualness of that oyster knife.