periwinkleThe blue sky meets the ocean. The narrow beach is blasted white. Clam shells, bleached from the sun, litter the sand. I walk along the shore. The waves gently push and pull at the small rocks and debris at the edge of the water, they roll and mash against one another; it sounds like an hour glass endlessly flipping over and over.

I find a rock. It is granite with a heart of quartz. I hold it in my hand and look to the ocean. The boats rock on the waves. A man in a swimmers cap glides along the frigid water. Across the way, New England money park their boats on a sandbar and walk across to a small cantina. From where I stand, it looks like they are walking on water. The cantina has a patio with festive outdoor lights. Their motions are silent against the waves. I lose interest in the rock and hurl it into the ocean.

Ahead, a cache of sea glass. I pocket the shards of green and brown. They have been worn smooth and their color dulled by time and the bombardment of sand. Their cleaved edges are smooth. I rub them in my pocket.

A plastic fork is plunged in the sand. It’s lost one of its tongs, like a hand that’s lost a finger. It is otherwise forgettable, but the fork is blue with a faded-buffed texture giving it an appearance that strikes me as New England. I put it in my pocket.

There isn’t any rhyme or reason to the process. There is no right way to perform this ritual.

Periwinkles mound up in piles on the shore. They are not native to New England. They come from across the pond, living and breeding off the coast of Europe from Southern Spain up into Russia[1]. A friend had taught me a trick: place a periwinkle near your mouth and hum. The creature will stick out its appendage. I’m sure it’s torture to them.

The periwinkle is a traveler. It does not assume control of where it ends-up. It has no music. It asks no questions. It doesn’t tell any stories. At least, none that can be understood. I pick up a periwinkle. I place it near my mouth. Does it know it exists? But that doesn’t matter. The real philosophical question, the heart of our anxiety: does the periwinkle know I exist? I let the creature roll from my palm and fall back into its pile.



[1] ‘Common Periwinkle’ Wikipedia accessed August 2016


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