Shells

Lately I've been carrying sea shells. I found most of them a few weeks ago in the shallows of Boca Ciega Bay, near my grandmother's overtly sterile abode. I'd wander through the temperate sea in the twilight hours, looking for sharks and unwarranted melancholy. (I found both in equal portions - a satisfying venture indeed.) In those hours, of course, the meds have dulled and my mind weighs heavy, while the sun claws the absolute dark with routine ferocity. In those hours my heartbeat reverberates like bird song against my eardrums and the disconnect lays cottony on my tongue. I feel practically effervescent then- closer to what has been lost and what is to be gained in this mess.

Among my spoils of Poseidon's bounty - a sliver of a large Pen Shell, all oil-slick bright and jagged as the wounds they left. There were hundreds, jutting cockeyed and unrepentant out of the sand. I took a few of their hollowed brethren as revenge - my feet were sliced like fine sushimi by the time I saw fit to emerge from that giggling surf. Perhaps as a symptom of my warrior blood, I hold my hurt in a place of reverence and thus I still carry the resplendent fragment like an Indian scalp. My grandfather was a fighter pilot, who shared my violence and my eyes. He looked for weightlessness, in the air and in the gulf. We were not meant for the earth but for the bite of the unexplored and the caress of chaos, no matter the price. He died in the desert in 1981 while working as a test pilot, as a result of a mechanical malfunction on an old bomber. He died in the sand.

There are times when Geminian isolation and loneliness bloom in my uncalloused fingers. To entertain these hands I carry a banded tulip shell, for a bit of comfort or a reminder of my place in disorder when home feels so very distant. It has been harshly weathered by waves, by her chaos: the delicate labyrinth of spirals still clings but previously fine colors now hold all the splendor of spilled tea. I found it uninhabited one subdued evening. By some coincidence, it also serves as a memento of my father's kinesic love, his embrace. He adores tulips, a quiet and rather inexplicable passion.

I gave one half of a sweet little Rose Tellin to my step-grandfather. I gave one half of a Sunray Venus Clam to a boy and one of my Neverita duplicata specimens to a girl. They're all far away now. I don't know when I'll see them again but it won't be soon. I don't mind. I loved them once but now they tire me. There is too much to explore in this world to consort with those who don't care to wonder, to meander.

It's all so light, each piece disappearing in my small fists. These calcified corpses (veritably Lilliputian!), they should be so much heavier with all the wishes and memories I impose upon them. It's nirvana out there in the tide, drinking in impiety while aqueous lips kiss your battered skin. God, I miss her, those cool waters infinite in apathy and expanse. She wouldn't have me, though, not now. I took what I could but it wasn't nearly enough to sate this blood-borne wanderlust.





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