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A Crab

Thom Gunn

A crab labours across my thigh.

Oh. The first time I got crabs, I


experienced positively

Swiftian self-revulsion: me


unclean! But now I think instead

‘I must get some A2oo,’


and feel (picking it up, watching

its tiny beige legs, a live thing


that wriggles in all directions)

neither disgust nor indifference,


but a fondness, as for a pet.

I’m glad it’s nothing worse, and yet


it slipped and swung from one of us

to the other, unfelt because


the skin was alive with so much

else. It was a part of our touch.

From London Magazine, Vol. 1 No.11, February 1962