Late August

by Caroline Fairey

On the bottle-lined beach the
pine trees lift their skirts. The sand
shelled and sea-slick crumbling from
each tiptoed trunk. Every year

            the river eats more of the island
and leaves behind more hollowed
            reeds, more jellyfish corpses.

In every poem you cast fiddler crabs, marsh
grass, sun-flashing minnows, one perfect

            Once I sliced my foot like a mango on an oysterbed
            Once I climbed a clay-orange cliffside & used torn roots as handholds
            Once I pinched the back legs of a blue crab to avoid his barnacled claws
and knew unflinching that I would outlive him.

Miles away from the May River I rock in a bathtub,
salt-soaked contact lenses kaleidoscoping a redlined map:
ten years’ time, the coast swallowed whole
            and don’t we deserve to go with it

dig our heels into a bank of pluff mud
the hungry graveyard nourished by crabshells
and fishbones and now me, submerged

spartina salt marsh swaying underwater
while gilled crabs bubble and sidle
across the flooded city sidewalk.

CAROLINE FAIREY studies English and Global Studies at the University of South Carolina. Her work can be found in The Cardiff Review, Noble Gas Qrtly, Jellyfish Review, and elsewhere. She can usually be found on Greene Street handing out copies of Garnet & Black Magazine, her glossy-printed pride and joy.