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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.

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