Molting by Roger Sippl His back was already broken when I found the molting lobster while SCUBA diving at night. It was his own volition that fractured it, after deciding that he needed to grow beyond what his rigid shell would allow. So he cracked himself at his middle and started squeezing his vulnerable blue-red body that had developed inside this brick-red calcium exoskeleton so that he could back out through the growing escape opportunity between his tail and his carapace, rebirthing to leave behind his old head and muscle sheath. At first just a small amount of dark middle started to protrude through the slot, and then the softer, translucent protoshell was showing clearly, growing into an ever-larger lump, as his eyes disappeared from their former sockets and his soft-shelled lobster body flexed and protruded under my spotlight, as if in a colored MRI of a disk bulging out of the spine of a person badly in need of surgery. A dozen flips of his new tail and he squirted like a squid across the sand patch to the other side of the reef where he found a protective crevice, eel-free, and crawled inside to puff his new elastic casing full of sea water to become a step-function larger, allowing his new shell to harden in the hiding. I looked at his former image left clenched to the rock in front of me, both open halves, legs and antennae— the empty lobster molt— making me wonder what prickly shell that I, myself, might need to leave behind.
Roger Sippl studied creative writing at the University of California at Irvine, the University of California at Berkeley and at Stanford Continuing Studies. He has been published in the Ocean State Review and accepted by Open Thought Vortex, Her Heart Poetry, Bacopa Literary Review and two medical journals, JAMA Oncology and CHEST. He has written his first novel, which is in revision.