Mary-Austin Klein, Pismo Dunes (oil on panel)

The boys I met told me to stay where the tide
had left the sand taut. The rarest shrimp lived there,
so small I couldn’t see them, and if I bored enough holes

with the PVC pipe they’d given me, I’d harvest something
invisible. The narrow wells I dug resettled slowly,
a line trailing behind me up the beach. There was so much

on either side, rattlesnakes in the dunes, oil rigs shuddering
through the haze. In the surf, my sisters and I played a game
called “Was That You?” and an enormous reddish crab

sliced through my mother’s heel. On our last day, we drove
to the souvenir superstore to shop for hermit crabs, the kind
that cringed into their painted shells when a hand dropped in.

My father parked beside a yellow jeep. They all walked
across the pavement and I stood in the space between the cars.
Someone had drawn a woman’s torso on the yellow door:

thick black lines marked the weight of her breasts. Her nipples
sprouted like sand dollars. My face level with where her face
should have been. Below the sargassum of her pubic hair,
                                    someone had written, Show me yours.


Emma Hine