I took a walk across the sands on Saturday. It was low tide: the ocean had pulled back her skirts the color of tears; the hem of her frothy petticoats teased and played across a shoreline dappled with footprints. The sand looked coarse and edible, like cooking salt: black, gray, rock, celtic, fleur de sel. The colors were pale and earthy, and they glistened in the sun under a tissue of water that puckered and evaporated in the rising heat.
The progress of the tide was marked by a thin rope of skeletons. The shells of tiny sand crabs, pink and white, were deposited in complex mounds as the sea shook her pretty dress free of their useless bones. Fragments of sand dollars, broken currency, exposed their interior chambers, their myriad pillars the color of cathedrals sleeping in the rain. The spines imprinted on their undersides branched like the fossils of forests.
I saw that the sky was pale, and the sun a melted pearl smeared across a luminous prospect. Far away the whiteness became lost in the gray breaths exhaled from the water. It became a vague horizon ready to confuse the sailors unsteady on their heaving decks, mistaking the songs of whales for the voices of their lost women.
Fetid mounds of kelp were neighborhoods for homes long vacated. Striped clams, scallops the size of a fingernail, silver and blue mussels clung to the slimy leaves with inanimate fervor. Helix shells, delicate spirals that twisted and curled like tiny marine stairways, hid beneath the uprooted gardens.
They say that the ocean can be heard inside shells – that the currents ebb and blow within their coils, canals and ribs. As I continued my walk across the sands and saw their discarded shapes I wondered if each one held their own coursing seas, their own mathematical tides. But then I wondered if they also yearned together to return to the living rhythm of the parent drumming upon the shore close by.