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Poetry

You’d Scream Too

A prose poem

We’d dropped baskets, rancid silver salmon heads for bait, which led to the boiling, the salt and butter, warm sourdough bread, too much wine, and the discussion of Dungeness versus Rock, how the stronger crabs would struggle longer, what defined conscious life.  A bit buzzed on white wine, Luci continued, “And did you read about the lost traps?  Thousands of them in the Sound, and the crabs crawl in after fish heads, and then starve and die, and then become bait for more.  It’s a death machine.”  Bill, her husband, wouldn’t make eye contact with any of us, two other couples invited for a few days of relaxation, sailing in the San Juans, but nothing much happened, which is how things usually end, and the next day we saw Orcas, massive cargo ships headed for Japan, and a porpoise swam alongside the boat, arcing over and under the surface.  In September, Bill drove to the harbor to clean up a mess from otters nested beneath the boat cover; they’d soiled the deck, stained mahogany—he scrubbed and scrubbed but couldn’t get it clean, and then left out poison and drove home only to find, when he went back to dry dock the boat for winter, something worse, a rotting otter under the life raft, bloated from arsenic.  Luci’s meds had taken effect in October, and she folded a cocktail napkin into irregular triangles as Bill later told us this story over drinks at happy hour, and she only spoke once to say that she preferred her soda without ice, and I thought about whether, when we have to pull up the crab trap, care is enough to keep away the claws and whether you’d be dropping or hurling everything into the waves.

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