In the Tide

On the shore a stranded shell
unable to move its weight alone,
only by the force of waves
or a curious hand that reaches to it,
this barren and directionless thing.

Trapped in the tidal drag
the shell rolls slow,
scores small dents,
finite signs in the sand
till the sea, once more, lets go.

Trickling channels form
a shallow moat;
high on a mound,
a brief landscape,
the shell the castle.

Once it housed a mollusc,
shielded it from ship-wreck rocks,
now the shell lies untangled,
no longer stifled
by the sinews of family bonds.

The ocean throws down hard,
pushes blind to dry hot sand,
the shell cast from its crest,
strewn amid seaweed,
sponge and fractured swirls.

Left high, salt dries to rock,
the shell to brittle bone,
its flushed crown faded,
crumbled rim gone,
lodged in the shore.

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