Low Tide in the Penobscot Bay.
At low tide, clam diggers once peppered the mudflats, punching gloved
hands into soggy clay. With almost every jab they caught the deeper
briny stench and stony clams.
Now the mudflats are almost empty, and divers dig in the bay for clams
that could once be summoned by anyone with the will to make a fist.
A circus ferry once ran up and down the coast, from Cape Cod to Bar
Harbor-- with an elephant, a tiger, and an osprey they claimed was an
eagle--but the boat caught fire leaving Searsport out past Deer Isle.
The crew jumped ship first then the circus performers, then the animals.
The elephant couldn't take the cold and the osprey couldn't
fly. As the tide returned, fire consumed the ferry, and water. Still,
some people claim the tiger made it to the island.
And now at low tide I walk along the beach with my wife as her son pokes
through windrows of seaweed, uncovering crabs that lift their defiant
claws and skitter toward the water.
We come upon a jellyfish cast up by surf, dead but still poisonous--a
dark red, with tentacles folded under, a ripe and formless jewel.