Stolen From The Shore

When the ocean grows weary of the skeletons bounding across her floor, of the bones borne inside the rocks, wrapped within the ribbons of kelp growing stories high, hidden in coral grottos the color of hand-tinted silk, she lets them go.

She pushes them away from her.  She is an impatient mother.  Muscular waves scoop them up in their rippling embrace and guide them towards a granular shore.  Helpless under the sun, their colors pale and choke, their patterns waver.  Some, like their brethren hidden in the mountains' titanic strata are destined for burial, waiting for the curiosity of science to exhume them.

Others will wait for people like me.

I collect seashells.  They are sculptures that fit in my hand, staircases that wind down to my fingertips, fans that raise the tiniest of maritime breezes.  When I see those deserted homes scattered across the salty landscape, I bear down upon that ghostly community with all haste.  I take home whatever catches my eye:  orange scallops that can fit inside a fingernail; cones and turbans lined with iridescent pearl; clams with pink sunbursts…each day there is a new orphan.  I steal away with the elegant remains.

And once home, I will arrange them in crystal bowls, where their shapes and bleached textures soothe my eyes.  But when I hold them to my ear and listen, I can still hear the sigh of a remorseful parent. 

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11 responses to “Stolen From The Shore

  1. Ooh. Makes me want to go to the seaside RIGHT NOW.

  2. I enjoy collecting seashells, too. They are infinitely varied and beautiful and they remind me of the seaside, one of my favorite places.Love this line:"She pushes them away from her. She is an impatient mother."

  3. * sigh * …You write so pretty, Aubrey…&:o)This makes ME miss walking along the beach even more, too. I've been saying all summer that I want to go to the shore, to walk along the beach looking for treasures and feel the waves lapping around my feet — but it didn't happen this year.

  4. Gamba/Jando – I went to the beach last week. Boyfriend was trying to get me to 'surf' again; but I was so slaughtered by the waves that when I got out I was too distraught to go shell-collecting. Pity!
    Red Pen – Sometimes I see the ocean as a selfish mother, wanting to keep her shells with her; this time I saw her as impatient, wanting to be rid of them as soon as possible.
    YGRS – Now you're making ME want to go back!

  5. Shelling is one of my loves too. Nice of Mother Ocean to ruffle her skirt hems and shake out a few children for us each day.And taking the shells home, in pockets or a bag or an old cup, to wash them. Soaking them and a gentle scrub. I have some in baskets, most are in bags, dated and labeled with the name of the beach. My mom's shell collection (from around the world) is up in the attic. Sigh. I know.Why is it called combing? Doesn't do it justice at all.

  6. This reminds me of the first time I saw the sea. The first time I picked up a perfect shell and brought it home.Thank you.

  7. Shells in a crystal bowl, a beautiful image. Do they emit a light fragrance of the sea.Love your closing line: But when I hold them to my ear and listen, I can still hear the sigh of a remorseful parent.

  8. Anyone who is not moved to stoop and gather on the shore is dead inside. And Aubrey – as I already suspected – is very much alive 🙂

  9. Oh you have inspired me with your beautiful writing. I too love picking up sea shells and sand dollars and walking in the edge of the waves.

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