Shelling 2003

at the margin on a beach that is
empty for miles, he picks up shells.
he does not know the names
of many of these, but here is a scallop,
are catıs and tiger's paws, conchs large
and small, with brown and green,
yellow and blue speed lines flowing
delicately, and large spiny pen shells;
sand dollars, embossed on top
with cinquefoil, pentagons and dollars
even in this pure place. here is a
butterfly clam, fragile, easily broken,
oyster shells like dark stone, thick shells
with white eyes on the underside.
some are plain until turned, a hidden
flower, as bright as a new bee, this blue
one, another, brilliant red in the water,
and a small round one: it is pure white.

his tote is full.

in the distance he sees her digging,
a woman intent. what are you doing?
she said, see these small white shells?
I collect them and craft roses from
them. and went on digging. aren't
they beautiful? she hands him one.

the waves break against the sand,
the sea stretches beyond seeing. From
across the ocean he can hear the sounds
of battle, the noise of war. He takes
this petal from her. His bag overflows.
but surely he has room for one more.

at least one more.

Steven Fortney

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Page updated by TiPi, 3/21/2004