DeBordieu Colony, Georgetown, South Carolina
1-4 September 2017
My cousin and I walk on the beach,
water whooshing over our feet and up our ankles.
I can feel the sand rushing between my toes
and I can feel the power of the water.
We search for shells, my cousin’s eye tuned
to the big ones with no holes, shiny and whole.
When he sees a huge Florida Fighting conch nestled in the sand,
he runs to it, eager for the perfection of the hard curves.
When he picks it up, and it looks like a monster
has bitten a bite out of the side, the curling center
like a unicorn horn, he throws it aside,
knowing I will now rush to it, before the waves
once again take the treasure away.
I grasp the shell, pulling it from the prying fingers
of the rough South Carolina sand,
it’s craggy edges softened by
time and movement and water.
I will put this shell in my pocket,
along with the other pieces and parts of shells that
catch my eye as we wander the shore:
giant atlanta cockle,
and the list goes on.
They jangle in my pocket,
like coins, but better.
When I come home, two airplanes and two cars later,
I pour my bag onto the table,
relishing the sight of the little ordinary treasures.
I write this poem and I long to be like my collection of shells:
broken and beautiful, collected by somebody’s careful eye
as they walk on the shores of their own broken life,
longing, as I am, for just a little bit of grace.