Prospect, Virginia, USA
Near Good Luck Point
My cousin Jack and I open the hinges on the minnow traps, drop in pieces of stale bread, and a few handfuls of dog food, before snapping them shut. The traps dangle like earrings from our handlebars as we ride our bikes out to the point.
Water in the lagoon is dark and still. We follow a path away from the main road as mosquitoes buzz around us. “Don’t open your mouth,” Jack says. “I can taste them.”
We toss the traps in. They splash, sink, and then settle on the bottom. Minnows will swim through the cones on either end. “They can find their way in but are too dumb to swim back out,” my cousin says. Tomorrow we will pull them in, filled with silver fish that sparkle like a pocketful of coins.
the pull of a candy
Each of us takes a wooden pole as we unravel the seine net. There are corks along the top to keep it afloat; weights on the bottom so the net drags in the sand.
We choose a spot near the jetty, away from swimmers and fishermen. Our poles dig in the silt as we wade into the bay; draw our net slowly through the brackish water. When the waves reach our waists, I stand as my cousin moves in an arch like the path of the moon until we are both parallel to the shore again.
Jack and I move a few steps toward each other then pull the net evenly, quickly onto the beach where we fold it open and pick like birds through our catch. The shiners are tossed into a bucket of salt water—bait for later tonight. Crabs, baby flounder, skinny gar fish, and eels are all returned to the sea. A few onlookers move closer to see what was towed in from the bay.
At home, we unfold the seine; leave it to dry in the sun, while on the beach, seagulls pick through sticks and jellyfish, treasures we left behind.
glint of fish scales
on our skin
Low tide. Jack and I float in our tubes. We keep them centered between the round pillars which are covered with sharp barnacles. The waves and current push us toward shore. It is always cool under here, always shadow. No one notices where we are.
We look up through sunlit cracks in the planking as legs flash by and water from wet suits drips through. My cousin and I hear the thump of feet running to the edge then the scream and splash of kids leaping from the pier. Couples hang their feet over the sides and we listen hard to their conversations but they blur like voices under water.
From our vantage, we can see mothers wading in the shallows with babies, blankets spread on the sand, and we can hear music coming from radios. If I start to talk, Jack says, “Sh, someone will hear us, the lifeguard will blow his whistle.”
The water laps against the piles as gulls chatter after boats. Jack and I are in a world of our own but the tide is moving and soon we will run out of room.
roll of tides
the missing piece
of a sand dollar
the jingle of a distant