Vision of America

When I lived on the island the crabs were moving.
A migration based on the rains – they go
after the first heavy downpour, wind through jungle
down to the sea.

Watching them is watching
death, so much of it, so certain:
the trucks that must pass despite the signs,
the wet crunch of shells under

each wheel, the odd crab beneath bicycle tire.
I wonder how in the face of such massacre
they can remember the way to the water.
A park ranger taught me that

they read the land, follow
little patches of water slipping downhill
at an angle we cannot see.
There is the smell of it,

moving water, open water, salt,
a taste just strong enough to become
this mass crawling, the miles, a survival
ritual. On the island the roads go

where the crabs do not and still there is
death, the warm red stench.
But here rain means stop driving, means
watch the beautiful creatures move.

I like to imagine a place built this way –
the land split up only by how the rain falls.
A place where collision gives way to
reverence, where nothing is as sacred as

survival. Where the migrants are so mortal
they are beautiful, are worthy of reaching the sea.

Stephanie Niu


Stephanie Niu is a student from Marietta, GA who currently studies at Stanford University. Her poems have been published in Metafore Magazine (2019), Rainy Day (2017), Liminality (2015), and Writer’s Block Magazine (2015), among others. Outside of verse, she experiments with art-making through dance, videography, and machines.

© 2019