Laura L. Snyder

After an overcast day of mist and wind from the intertidal coastline, our faces were wind and sunburned after gathering sweetgrass for basket weaving. I staggered up the riprap with a heavy, awkward bundle of rush slung over my shoulder, and there it was. How could I have walked by it this morning? Like a plank to the face, certain senses are impossible to ignore. My teeth clenched, and both nostrils flared before I could breathe through my mouth. Otherworldly while it lived, now a couple of weeks dead, this ten-foot enormous black soap-thing was barely recognizable, stranded on the high reaches of this strip of beach in Hoquiam. Back at our cars, I asked the other basket weavers if they had seen it, but they were too tired to care. Their minds were on beating the traffic to get back to Seattle. It was a door set in my path to another world. If I had been alone, I would have fallen, like Alice. Among the muck of old marine oil and sand, dried green algae, twists of decaying rope and bleached bones of trees, I leave this messenger to the rough benediction of rain off the gray Pacific, the lapping tides.

“Sturgeon” appeared in the 2012 edition of the Labletter.

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