Thursday, January 24, 2008

beachcombing

I.

a shell
is a skeleton really

the old discarded body
of a creature who has either
died or moved out

the hard ridges on the outside
contrast the luminous
pearl lining
the rough exterior hides
a soft spot

some crunch, some clink
some mimic the sea’s sound
“Mommy, I heard the sea today. . .”
an auditory illusion
lending certain comfort

preservative and decay
in the same whiff
some like salt
some like fish

I wonder what a shell tastes like:
“Our specialty of the day is
shell soup.”
the sea or the sea food?
the salt or the decay?

“With or without crackers?”


II.

the sun creeps
steadily toward its sleeping place
sandpipers race
in and out of the shore’s embrace
their fragile feet
keeping pace with the surf’s cadence

snow-bright grains
disguise the sand dollars
I venture out
among the kelp and driftwood
scooping up handfuls
of debris from the changing gulf
searching for the circlets
ankle-deep in the gritty water

shells crunch beneath my toes
I walk slowly
looking for only the pretty ones
like brittle white bones
the sand dollar pieces lay shattered
scattering with the tide

twilight washes the beach
with a restless quiet
in the shadows I squint to see
the pieces of treasure in my salt-sweaty hands
broken or whole?
there will be better light at dawn

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