"By scummed, starfish sands
With their fishwife cross
Gulls, pipers, cockles, and snails…
…and herons, and shells
That speak seven seas…"
—Dylan Thomas 'Prologue'
I collect shells. So does boyfriend. Many times, when he's finished with his surfing, we'll both scour the shore, looking for any tidbits the sea has been willing to part with. Once they are free of the nurturing tides, they're at our mercy: to either be scooped up or stepped on by the greedy or clumsy beach combers. Sometimes I come across a fragment – crushed by a thoughtless step, or broken against the rocks in a fit of oceanic pique – so fine that I accept it anyway.
So I'll admit that I'm rather greedy:
But I'm also careful. I'll always make sure there are no…inhabitants. I don't want to tread on anyone's real estate. The last thing I want to do is kick one of Claude's relatives out of their home.
I'm convinced that the ocean loves her shells. I believe that she loves to watch her pretty baubles as they tumble along her currents. She loves their shapes, colors and patterns: their endless individuality. And she is loath to part with them. Many times I'll be splashing through the water, buffalo-like, after a scallop, or a Queen Tegula, when suddenly the tide would turn – literally – as if the ocean was saying: “Not quite…this one is a little too splendid for me to part with just yet.”
And so I must be content to wait.