We walk toe to heel along the broad yellow stripes in the middle of the road,
as if on an imaginary balance beam.
The late-night buzz of the streetlights and the crickets
mingles with our shouts and the distorted music from a faraway party.
We race the older kids on their bikes,
wheels spinning as they fly off up the hill, dizzyingly fast,
leaving us behind, our bare feet stinging on the pavement.
We dangle our legs over the creek,
sides pressed together on the flat rocks,
pretending to push each other in.
Pull up the eel traps that we didn’t put in,
checking the fruits of someone else’s labor.
We look at the eels, writhing and squirming all over each other,
their slippery skin glinting in the moonlight.
After looking for a long enough time,
we take turns tossing the cages back out over the black water.
We like the noise,
and the way the ripples spread towards the marsh grass.
I don’t know why they put eel traps in the creek,
or what they do with the eels after they’ve caught them.
Even as a kid I don’t think I ever knew.
It was just something that had always been there,
one of those constants.
In a sleepy beach town like this,
nothing much ever changes.
The same people doing the same things,
summer after summer.
It’s the same thing every year.
I can feel the turn, even with my eyes closed.
The gravel crunches under car tires,
slowing down by Andrew’s house,
the whale tail stark on the outside of the garage.
Same weathered shingles,
roof reaching up towards the cloudy sky.
The grass is wet beneath my feet,
the smell of cooking burgers fills the air.
The adults sip on sangria and
we kids drink cranberry juice and pretend to be grown.
Piled onto picnic tables, elbow to elbow,
talking over each other and spitting cherry pits.
Skinned knees and sunshine,
those seemed more important than anything then.