I dug it out from under the clumpy, wet sand,
water lapping around my ankles
as the storm raged over my head
like a backdrop.
I gave it only a glance
before deciding to toss it back to sea.
It was only a shard of a shell,
nowhere near as intricate as the others,
colored a boring grayish hue to mimic the sky.
But my father’s voice,
echoing over the crashing waves,
I hurriedly slipped it into the grimy plastic bag,
tied around my narrow wrist,
along with all the other beach treasures I had found,
and scurried back towards the dock, kicking up sand in my wake.
Finally in the comfort of the hotel room,
I fished it out of the dirt-filled Walmart bag.
It was unlike the other shells I had collected that day:
chipped at the sides
and covered in hundreds of tiny holes
and larger craters,
blemishing its surface.
The grooves of the shell, etched with tiny beads of white sand,
the moods of the sea engraved upon its many layers,
and so bulky, it barely fit within my small hand.
As rugged as it seemed to the eye,
it was smooth to the touch.
My fingers skimmed over its each ridge and crevice,
the cool stone, cathartic in my palm
like the light sprinkle of water you feel on your skin
when the wind blows over the tide.
Somewhere in a plastic bag under my bed,
it remains with me,
after all these years.
The sole token of
a childish curiosity, now long gone.
And to think I almost lost it to the ocean.