songs from the shells

the bright urge of her summer-shocked patch of sea in the cape
lay as immersion naked but for the solution of salt–she shunted
sand, castle-like delusions of grandeur (formed, of course, by dyed
plastic, the hollow turrets radioactive) and found no shells this
season except for the conch of his ear, delicate spiraling
into unreachable blackness that her tongue-tip could never touch,
and something had to die inside it for her to be able to cup it
with her palm and whisper the siren song of madness and rage,
of breadth that cannot be measured except by thumb, of stars
that willfully trace their own paths across the sky, of love
in the curl of a wave that always, always breaks. and somewhere,
she blows softly and a mollusk dies, and he can hear it.


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