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Thursday, March 09, 2023


by Martin Elster

Aber-clam Lincoln, a quahog clam believed to be 214 years old found at Alligator Point, was released into the Gulf of Mexico Friday by his caretakers at the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab in Panacea. Americorps member Blaine Parker dug up the two-century old mollusk while collecting shellfish to make chowder. Parker said it is hefty enough to make two servings and has shells large enough to use as bowls to serve it in. “We were just going to eat it, but we thought about it a while and figured it was probably pretty special. So, we didn’t want to kill it,” said Parker. Instead, he took it to the aquarium at the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab where he works as a specimen collector. Photo by Alicia Devine: Marine Blaine Parker releases a quahog clam believed to be 214 years old into the Gulf of Mexico. Parker found the clam he calls "Aber-Clam Lincoln" at Alligator Point. —Tallahassee Democrat, February 26, 2023

Finding a clam weighing more than a quart of milk,
his mind said, “Turn her into tasty chowder!”
but another voice inside him—which was louder—
was telling him this clam was of an ilk
quite special. So he didn’t kill the critter
but, thinking a little, had the bright idea 
to take her to a lab in Panacea.
(A picture of her can be seen on Twitter.)

Counting the layers in her rounded shell,
scientists recognized she took her first
breath of water before Lincoln was nursed,
and so he tossed her back into the swell.
We wonder: How many times will the world loop
around the Sun before she is clam soup?

The winner of the 2022 Helen Schaible International Sonnet Contest, Martin Elster comes from Hartford, CT, where he studied percussion and composition at the Hartt School of Music and performed with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. Martin, whose poetry has been strongly influenced by his musical sensibilities, has written two books, the latest of which is Celestial Euphony (Plum White Press, 2019).