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Cousin ties a knot for us
round a raw drumstick,
hangs it from the cage.
Under the pier—
yellow skin peels from pink flesh,
floats to the surface
oily, puckered—
waiting.

I learn
how to float
but not how to swim
and my eyes burn from
the chlorine and I sleep
for hours in the van until
the others find me to
play on the swings.

This dusty shore named for
clams;
we want none.
Only crabs for us.
We lure them with chicken–
with nothing–
with twine and spit.
Boil them in water from the spigot.

We city kids
really rough it
out here
with these pools
and candy stores
and video games
and paddleboats
and our parents.

Fingers caked with wet
rice break backs and bellies,
pluck gills,
scrape eggs, tear limbs
Tita takes our legs–
cracks them
under a glass jar for us.
We suck shells ’til twilight.

At dawn we hang
laundry and fry
garlic and at dusk we
play mahjong and sing
show tunes but we’re loud
too loud for them
so when we leave they
ask for us
not to come back.

 
 


This story is part of a special issue of The Margins around the theme “Camp.” Look out for more essays, stories, and poems in the issue in the coming weeks.

Andrea Juele is a nonfiction writer and poet born in Manila, Philippines and raised in the suburbs of New York City. She is a veteran restaurant server, volunteer tour guide on Governors Island, and former intern at The Asian American Writers’ Workshop. Her work appears in PATHs and Asteri(x) Journal. Currently, she is with the publicity team at Riverhead Books.

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