Issue 163, Fall 2002
At the bay's edge and day's end, we comb
the shore for beach glass, clouded grains
of clarity among the ground-down,
cast-off shells of other naked creatures
and litter that's inescapably our own.
The bottom of a bottle, lip of a jar,
and the primal syllabic babble of broken shards—
UR; RE; BOT; and half-formed clues:
RETURN; FOR D (a gift enclosure? Who's D?),
fragments of rose and amber, spearmint and blue.
I'd forgotten that glass is little more
than sand, and sand reclaims it, grain by grain.
The minor part we play forging mirrors,
peering through panes, lifting a cup to the lips,
is borrowed time: it's the same sand that slips
so quickly through our fingers. Take a guess:
How long does it take the waves to change,
let's say, a champagne flute to beach glass?
The surf drowned out my question. You didn't respond.
Faces down, squinting to pluck the glass
from the glare, we lose sight of one another
even though we're close enough to touch,
have more than just the usual reason to,
and so when the sea chokes up metallic surf,