Sunday, March 20, 2016

By the seashore . . .

This is a section of dance regalia from the Odawa powwow near Harbor Springs, MI,
many years ago. Cowrie shells
were used as money by many Native American tribes, 
when they could find or trade for them.
It is interesting to note that shells have often been used as money
at many different times and places.
It is often difficult for me to walk on the beach with putting one or two shells in a pocket.

here is one quick link from eBay.
Be sure to scroll down the page!

      butterfly-shell clams

These minute shells, open but hinged,
rest in a mahogany dish turned
by my uncle. After he died,
Mother, flying thousands of miles,
carried it to me. The shells have traveled
their own migration, brought west
by a friend from her Florida beach,
the coquinas persistently leaving
these spread wings for her daily walk.

Opalescent, citrine, amethyst,
they shine in this desert light
as if they belonged---
like rabbitbrush in bloom,
or very old, discarded bottles changed
by the desert sun from clear to violet.

They cluster now on the handrubbed wood
as if each receding or advancing tide,
each mallet stroke of sun, 
has been worth it.

June Frankland Baker
                             Commonweal, 14 August, 1992, page 27.

My haiku mentor, Kiyoko Tokutomi, came from a place in Southern Japan, on the island of Kyushu, where the beach had similar pink shells, which she called in English: cherry petal shells. She loved them in childhood; these tiny things can be very evocative.

Click here for Kiyoko's haiku!

and then there old tongue-twister:
She sells seashells by the seashore!
Say it over and over. . . . . . . . .

The poem was written by my best friend from high school, 
who found me again through another poet, Naomi Clark, 
many years ago. I am trying to reduce my worldly possessions, 
and so have been looking though many hanging-file-folders.
Last week I found this clipping from Commonweal.

My favorite line in the poem is:
"each mallet stroke of sun"
I think it is an excellent observation, uniquely expressed!

June Frankland Baker continues to write and publish her poems;
she lives now in Washington State.
She is also a regular reader of this blog;
this is a surprise for her. . .

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