The Sirens Take Out the Trash

Elizabeth Vignali 

The morning smells like freshly-baked bread 
and low-tide sea creatures. Someone whistles 

for their dog. Someone asks for their coffee to go.
Someone picks out a Sam Cooke song on the guitar. 

We listen to tourists’ footsteps on the boardwalk above
and cup our terrible song in fingers stained with seaweed

and nicotine. We cringe from sunlight striped
across our skin and bury our eyes in sand until dusk.

Float planes buzz and jostle over the water like wasps.
Shredded cabbage confettis through the boardwalk cracks

from fish tacos and veggie burgers. 
The wind tastes like oil and oysters. 

When night falls and lampposts blossom orange 
along the pier, we creep up to the rocks that used to be ours

and release our voices to the wind.
They’re too weak now to reach much. 

Our song tangles in fishnets and eel grass. It ricochets 
in crab pots and eddies around tide pools rainbow-slick 

with gasoline. We patch our voices with tar and duct tape. 
We tie them together with stray shoelaces.

We call our longing to the fleet of commuter ferries.
Cathlamet, Elwha, Hiyu, Sealth.

Family, plenty, animal, stone.
Someone balls up a red-and-white food wrapper

and casts it in the harbor. 
Our voices summon the rubbish: Coke bottles and buttons 

and plastic bags, waxed paper and nylon fishing line. The red 
pockmarked faces of buoys. 

Elizabeth Vignali is an optician and writer in the Pacific Northwest, where she coproduces the Bellingham Kitchen Sessions reading series. She is the author of Object Permanence and coauthor of Your Body A Bullet, forthcoming from Unsolicited Press. Her poems have appeared in Willow Springs, Cincinnati Review, Mid-American Review, Tinderbox, The Literary Review, and others. 

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