Seaside Gothic

Fiction | Poetry | Nonfiction

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Beachcomber’s Faith

Beachcomber's Faith by Shelley Thomas

Tell me, Landlubber, do you pray?

Do you draw in the sand with a stick?
Do you see fins of light flashing
over rocks, faces emerging in driftwood?

Can you conjure the wind?

You’ve been far too long from yourself,
from the smell of the cold, of kelp, and carrion.
You’ve forgotten how to read the ancient texts.

There’s no shell about your throat or scrape
of stones in your pocket. No trace of tide in your speech
or track of mud in your kitchen.

How is it your wicker’s not wet with salt water?

Where are your talismans to build your days?
No sea glass on fingers, in lobes, on your buckle.
No feather or flower through your cardigan’s eye.

There are runes at the wrack. Crescent moons
to form under nails. Divinations to hold
to the light. Psalms half sunk in the sand.

The shoreline a rosary, a mala, a grace.

Shell. Stone. Wood. Bone. Glass.
Each a bead. Each worn and well-thumbed,
the devotion and instruction of waves.

Tell me, Landlubber, do you pray?