Catching Crayfish

On a summer field trip we went to the river

to spend the afternoon catching crayfish.

Camp counselors wrangled us into two lines,

one for boys and one for girls.

They led us to the water’s edge

where they handed out small nets

with wooden handles, and told us

to only go as far as the large white rock.

I waded into the water,

allowing the cold river to rush

past my ankles, my knees,

then halfway up my thighs.

At the bottom of the riverbed,

minnows swam around me

like a plume of smoke.

I found one hiding in a crevice

beneath a mossy rock.

This creature was smaller than a lobster,

but larger than a shrimp,

with two menacing claws that pinched.

It had a mottled brown shell

that it wore like a suit of armor,

hard and impenetrable.

I dipped the net deep and scooped it up

high into the air, its body thrashing

as its many legs tangled

with the webbing of the net,

its small black eyes glaring

as I dumped it into the bucket

with all the other crayfish that had the misfortune

of being captured by middle schoolers.

At the end of the day,

we emptied the buckets of crayfish

into the river and watched as they scattered

and scuttled away, until all we could see

was the water-covered earth beneath our feet.

Caitlin O’Halloran is a biracial Filipino-American poet who studies in a poetry workshop taught by Katia Kapovich. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Boston University in Philosophy and History. Her work has been published in Vast Chasm Magazine, BarBar Literary Magazine, and Apricity