Megan Merchant

Ghost net
Japan Tsunami, March 11, 2011

I.

Her mothering hands
split the dark
into three sections.

She dreams her daughter
is there—impatient,
fidgeting between her knees
while she smooths
flyaway hairs
to twine it
just so.

She takes the soft
sleeve of her robe
and wipes
a drip of seawater
that slips from her
daughter’s nose.

II.

A yellow fishing buoy
scraps ashore,

soft-stranded moss
tangled long into the braided rope,

in a stew of Styrofoam, driftwood
and shoe no wider than a closed fist.

Broken shells crunch like fingernails
and split teeth under bare feet.

The serial number, salt-whitened,
readable as forearm-ink under a sleeve.