Editor’s Note: Do not approach distressed seal pups. “If you believe a Harbor Seal pup or other marine mammal has been unattended by his mom for more than 48 hours, or is clearly in distress or injured, contact the West Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network Hotline at 1.866.767.6114.”
Every morning there are rats
Passed out from drinking
The leftover booze
That pools underneath
The restaurant’s dumpster.
Some of the men that arrive early in the morning to fish
Kick the rats into the water. Some swim to the floating dock,
And hold onto the rope that is tied to the floats. Others do not.
There are dogs that sleep in the sand and run up to you
If you look at them. I reached out to one, that is how
I got this scar.
One of the men has a contract with a dog. To keep the dog
From biting him. He takes it out on the boat
every morning. He lets the dog chew
one of the herrings he bought at the bait shop
And sleep in the sun on the bow of his boat.
Sometimes a seal pup will wash up without its mother
And cook into bones on the beach. Where are the men
To kick it back into the water, or even roll it towards the tide?
There are also baby raccoons that trap themselves
In garbage cans. Their mother’s stay close by,
Knowing their young did not just disappear.
I spend mornings sharpening fishing hooks
Watching young couples kiss
In the shade of the lean-to
That houses the rental canoes.
I see something kicking inside of the pelican’s mouth
As it stands on the picnic table…I watch its eyes widen
As it opens its mouth, and a rat comes tumbling out.
Shaking the water from its fur.
Erik Carlsen is a Tacoma native and soon-to-be graduate of Pacific Lutheran University.