Sanibel - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner


The evening before,
sands were a flea market.
Bronze pen shells, necklaces of barnacles,
Purple urchins, mottled purse crabs,
spotted like the barrels of paint horses,
ivory bivalves picked clean as
steamers after the feast.
Shoppers everywhere,
shorts and sandals.

The market was washed clean
after high tide,
supplanted by evenly broadcast
mounds of albino shell hash,
begging for color.

A lone, half-eaten fishhead.

The hues burst forth at daybreak.
I strode toward the splendor,
scorching shades of orange,
shells underfoot, crunching
like corn cobs in the teeth.

But, as I approached the fire,
the gray horizon behind me
blazed open, a thin strand of
blue velvet
splitting the darkness above the water.

I turned to follow the cobalt beam,
picking up my pace.

The evening’s shoppers returned.
some walked dogs, gathering
to talk, plastic bags in hand,
oblivious to the magic above.
A jogger passed in perfect cadence.
Did she share my wonder as she
etched footprints in the sand?

I looked back.
Shades of orange were now blinding.
Overpowering. Dangerous.
Telling me to leave.

About the author

Len Shindel

Len Shindel began working at Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrows Point Plant in 1973, where he was a union activist and elected representative in local unions of the United Steelworkers, frequently publishing newsletters about issues confronting his co-workers. His nonfiction and poetry have been published in the “Other Voices” section of the Baltimore Evening Sun, The Pearl, The Mill Hunk Herald, Pig Iron, Labor Notes and other publications. After leaving Sparrows Point in 2002, Shindel, a father of three and grandfather of seven, began working as a communication specialist for an international union based in Washington, D.C. The International Labor Communications Association frequently rewarded his writing. He retired in 2016. Today he and his wife, Maxine, live in Garrett County where he enjoys writing, cross-country skiing, kayaking, hiking, fly-fishing and fighting for a more peaceful, sustainable and safe world for his grandchildren and their generation Contact the author.

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