On hot afternoons in midsummer we would pedal across the county-line,
Old tar pails slung from our handle bars; and, arriving at the canal
With the sun straight up, we would walk the path from bridge to bridge,
Searching for them near the water’s edge, their shells — coarse, black,
Inanimate as stones — embedded in the warmth of the light brown mud.
I remember — how could I not? — their smell; how they hissed and strained
In the burning air; the tap and scratch of their shells and claws
As they tumbled through the murk of our listing pails; how nights, as I lay
On the edge of dream, they would return to me: silent, moonlit ghosts.
As if to remind of some solemn vow. Of our dark, convergent destinies.
— James Zinsmeister
Zinsmeister is a Beatles fanatic and teacher in the South Brunswick school district.