by Ed Madden

(at a tourist shop on the interstate, north Florida)

No, not ruddy, but pale rust cut
with yellow-bone of ocean,

a chunk of dawn sky.  Across
the knots and jags that swirl the crown:

a gash.  No, not the crack of beak or tooth,
nor accident of surge and stone that leaves

such remnants on the shore for lovers
walking the morning's ebb.

No, a shock of steam that thrust out
the mollusk, washed the walls

of muscle and trust.  What was hidden
is hollow; what was living is dead,

perhaps eaten.  And the smooth
pale lips of the conch say nothing,

though we attribute to them
the elegies of surf, their song.

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