Published in Overland Issue 228 Spring 2017 · Uncategorized The Task Eileen Chong after Sharon Olds We fished with lines, not nets. My father came home once and put two shells in my hand. Crabs poked their eyes out, watching to see what I would do. My mother chose crabs at the market. Grey-green armour, impenetrable. The crabs would sit in a basin on the floor of the laundry while my mother pounded spices. I once filled the tub with water. I’d thought they might drown. In the sink, my mother would push aside their legs, locate their underside flaps and stab them with the pointed end of a chopstick. I’d read that you could kill by placing crabs in the freezer. A slow, painless death. It was my task to unwrap the string from the dead ones. My father would prise off their top shells, remove the gills, and rinse out the guts. My mother would quarter each with a cleaver. When the crabs arrived at the table, swimming in sauce, my father would reassemble his. Lift the carapace. I liked breaking off the legs, snapping the joints and easing out the flesh in one intact sliver. Biting the meat off the cartilage in a single pull. I left the claws to the others, preferring only what I could mine through my own precise undoings. Read the rest of Overland 228 If you enjoyed this poem, buy the issue Or subscribe and receive four outstanding issues for a year Eileen Chong Eileen Chong is an Australian poet. She is the author of eight books. Her next collection of poetry, A Thousand Crimson Blooms is forthcoming from UQP in April 2021. She lives and works on unceded Gadigal land of the Eora Nation. www.eileenchong.com.au More by Eileen Chong › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 25 September 202326 September 2023 · The university Solidarity but only among managers, or the future of the university sector Hannah Forsyth The process continued during Covid. Jobs were being cut due to the threats posed by the pandemic, yet more scholars were being recruited. Nice people, good at their job. But why are we doing this, we kept asking. Management kept telling us we have a funding crisis (which often turned to a surplus in the end), so why are we also on a hiring spree? All along it looked like it could end badly, for all of us. First published in Overland Issue 228 15 September 202326 September 2023 · Friday Features Activating the poetic spirit as friendship John Kinsella I’ve always had the aching feeling that—as a text to be shared among friends and maybe eventually ‘enemies’—the soul-body dialogue poem is a way of arguing towards spiritual certainty in the face of earthly corruption and doubt.