by Janet Kenny
A miniature conch lay on the sand
where sea and land confuse. My hand
reached to possess the shell. Desire
to own the pink and sepia cone
made me a fool. I was all greed.
The setting sun expressed my fire.
I watched the shell advance, recede.
I had to have that shell or die.
No substitute could please my eye.
A sort of madness made me want
the shell to hoard, protect and flaunt.
No art collector could have grown
more avaricious. Look! The sea
produced this wonder just for me.
A soft grey body poked its head
out of the shell and waved a sting.
A finely formed vindictive thing.
I washed the creature when a wave
reclaimed the shell in sandy clouds.
The stinger had retained its house.
Which of us did the water save?
I from venom, the snail from me.
And in a way we both were free.
Blind to the depths we cannot see
we look elsewhere for mystery.
Uncanny how the beach, as sun
sinks in the sea when day is done,
sharpens our lives, made strange by light,
before finality of night.