First Girl

By 
Janette Fecteau

Fat flies line the bait box, brush and cling
like scraps of cellophane, ragged magnets
in the heat. You shuffle to band a lobster.
In a heartbeat it’s caught your thumb
with a crusher claw, the grip of an angry baby
multiplied tenfold. Stupid for a moment,
you can’t see what to do, so you cry
for help, hold it up, the bug hanging from your mitt.
Your father strides from the wheelhouse,
rips the claw right out of its socket.
What’s wrong with you? His face more sunburned
this morning than you remembered.
I have cramps.

—Well (it is the 1980s and you are the first girl
to work on boats around here) my other helpers
never complained of that.

Catches down since the water
turned to glass. Trapped together day in, day out,
in the sun’s glare off the sea, your skin and your father’s skin
burnt red under chin, nose, eyes. 

Janette Fecteau lives in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. Her poems have appeared in Our Times, Carousel, Event, The Antigonish Review, Isotope, Knock, The Pottersfield Portfolio, and the anthology Shout and Speak Out Loud: Atlantic Canadians on Child Sexual Abuse.

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