I walked the sand alone and found a shell,
Untwinned, a scoop lacking ice-cream;
Tiny, pink-ringed, pearled eggshell pale
As if moon-born. Too young to fail.
Turned it over in my hand, examining
Its tree-trunk segment growth-bands
Incremental, arithmetic, accreting its watery years.
Each brittle hoop an anniversary of salts.
A little corralled semi-purse of life, close
Shelter from storm and gull, where
Once a muscle sea-sucked through a straw,
Silt-spitting, blowing bubbles.
Instead, I saw a bowl of broken dreams, a
Lost pan's lid, or lost lid's pan;
Dumb ear, a drifting coracle, no oar –
The Bamiyan Buddha's palm, still waving on.
This casket cast around its treasure core
Once snapped shut on coinage rich and strange.
The craft for Aphrodite of the foam,
Now empty friction-hauled pearl carriage:
Goddess departed – both jewel and heart,
The palping life within; the back and forth,
Open and closed, of double form. Gone
The slow-feeding growth of joined experience.
And what remains? A capsized hull of refugees,
Shell-shocked; the soundless roar of one hand's clap;
Sole wing without the butterfly;
Half of a rifted marriage.
Rebecca Johnson Bista is a writer and artist based in West Cornwall. Her writing has been published in Words With Jam, The Broadsheet, and in Kernow Cornucopia, a pamphlet of West Cornwall poets. She is currently working on a novel set in India.