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when shells were pieces-of-eight

buried among sand-worn stones
in the cave by the tide pools
when i was big enough
to go alone
it was a treasure worth shrieking about
nearly as big as my nine-year-old fist
brown with pearly pink whorls:
a turban shell -- intact
unlike the commoner fragments of mussel halves
i squinted and peered as far as possible
down into the spiral hole
which sounded like the sea when held up to my ear
then plunged in my finger to probe deeper
with a wary eye on the incoming tide
i left before there was any real danger
the waves washed my footprints away
and the hermit crabs promised to tell no one

Copyright 2002, A.J.S. All Rights Reserved.