Christmas morning my hands are deep

in the work I know how to do.

I twist the whiskered heads,

jam a nail under razor armour,

leverage a hairline crack

that ripples down the husk,

rip it open. Salt juice on my wrists,

the Pacific invading the kitchen.

I yank out the black vein

in a single motion

leaving cleaved sweetness—

prone strophes in a blue willow bowl.

Prawns, illustration

Illustration by Rosie Handley


Sarah Holland-Batt is an award-winning poet, editor and critic, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at QUT, and the recipient of the 2022 Judy Harris Writer in Residence fellowship at the Charles Perkins Centre. ‘Shelling the Prawns’ is from her forthcoming collection, The Jaguar (UQP).

This poem appears in Openbook summer 2021.