Debris Queens

by Cairistiona Clark

The girls run down the shore, hopscotch
on granite boulders, tidal lava under sandaled feet.
They are seaweed searchers, pillaging high-water mark for jewelry –
red, blue, green elastics washed ashore.
Lobster bands on every finger, the beach queens survey their littoral domain.
From her boulder turret, their younger lookout spies
a cormorant and her father’s lobster boat, Well Done.
She sees tourists turn away from rotten low tide smell,
leave chipped neon pails. Attack!
In these new prizes, the queens tote stones for ramparts
adorned with doors and mesh from lobster traps.
Developing defenses, they pop seaweed floats like water guns,
taste knotted wrack brine on their lips.
The lookout tries a mud-ball mutiny but is handcuffed.
Halfway to microplastic, the foraged nylon frays, snaps,
and she floats on styrofoam
down the oceanbound marsh stream. Escape!
The queens run after her, dive into ocean
to somersault and chicken-fight on barnacles.
They forget their castles but later, before dinner,
they stow their treasures high on the beach.

— from Juniper Volume 4, Issue 3