Lobster Traps

I turn past the ledge into Swain’s Cove,
One numb hand easing back the throttle
Glancing apologetically at the seagull bobbing in my wake.

It’s cold today
Late October fog hangs low
Silencing all, except for the boat engine.

What’s that sticking out of the water?
Dark green wire Legos
Stacked high enough to breach the mid-tide.

A discarded pile of traps
Ropes gathering feathery brown sea moss,
Tiny mussels nestled between squares.

Once a prized string,
A symbol of fortune
Now slowly surrendering to the landscape.

Perhaps a young man’s ambition
Turned debt and frustration,
Or an old man’s final trip out the Bay.

Maybe these tired traps
Were simply relieved from duty
After a hardworking lifetime at sea.

Rain begins to fall in the cove,
Plip! Plop!
The autumn reds ashore somehow burn brighter.

My cold hands
Fumble with the bowline,
Finally tethering the old girl, safe and sound against the dock.

My last trip of the year,
I wonder if all will be as it is in this moment
When I return home in the spring.

By Claire Eaton

Wire lobster cages by forest island

Claire Eaton studies natural resource governance and environmental conservation in New England. Originally from the islands in Penobscot Bay, she now spends winters in Portland, Maine. Claire can be reached for comment and inquires at eaton.claire.k@gmail.com.

Photo by the author, Claire Eaton

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