Explain to Me the Oysters
I understand the part about freedom—but oysters?
Not Oysters, But Freedom
“The West will try to rely on the so-called fifth column, on national traitors…[those who] cannot live without oysters and gender freedom.”
—Putin, 16 March 2022
Written after “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll, 1871
The sea was wet as wet could be,
the sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
no cloud was in the sky,
but planes were roaring overhead,
still in their zone to fly.
The Old Bore, talking to himself,
had sensed an irritant.
He wept with bitterness to see
a better President.
“That nation should be cleared away,”
he said. “Self-evident!”
“O Oysters, come and walk with me,”
the Old Bore said, “and dine.”
A person he’d called oyster
shouted back: “I must decline.
Surely that is my free choice.
Our goals do not align.”
“The time has come,” the Old Bore said,
to talk of many things:
of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
of cabbages — and kings —
and why the sea has burned me up—
and whether I have wings.”
“Our breadbasket,” the people cried,
“isn’t yours to feed on.
Not our oil and gas fields.
You won’t get an arboretum!”
It was never about an oyster
and always about their freedom.
This poem does not earn money for the author. TGEU (Transgender Europe e.V.) explains how you can donate to organizations helping LGBTQI+ Ukrainians with emergency needs. You may also like to know about the book Decolonizing Queer Experience: LGBT+ Narratives from Eastern Europe and Eurasia (Lexington, 2020).
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