The shell you brought for me
from Cape Cod, crusted all over
with barnacles and resembling

an abstracted ultra
deep field view of the galaxies,
tilted every which way,

like a child’s game of jacks
on the floor, following certain
rules while breaking others.

Although, back then, we didn’t know.
Hubble wasn’t even launched yet,
and it was long before we knew

galaxies lay scattered across
the skies pouring out their light like
souls captured in great mirrors,

turning toward their own reflections.
This, here in my hand, isn’t grand
or great. So small, so light,

I can hardly tell I’m even
holding it. Just a half handful
of crystals, small shells faceting

the spiral, breaking up the curve
of the line like Morse Code,
stuttering, or like a fourth wall,

contradicting growth rings
and the subtle stripes of pale browns,
red-shifted and warm. Nothing lives

there now. Just the glossy polish
of the work that was done,
the luminous white of what was.

Just a netted fragment
of dreams carried far from
a place I’ll never be.

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