The Honoring of the Shells

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By Marcia Klepper-Smith

We honor you, sweet meat of shore
who lay upon our kitchen floor
awaiting shuck, tongues clamped in shell.
A passing thought: Is this your hell?

We brought you here, into our home
en masse, so none are left alone.
A blessing you are offering us —
O heavenly morsels, please pray, don’t cuss!

There on the stove the pot does brew —
its herbal broth might comfort you.
But first, we must give thanks and bless
the place we met — so I digress:

Your trust, our lure, was Tashmoo pond —
a place of which we are so fond.
You tempted us — you get the drift —
You called, we came, received your gift.

The calm in which you there did bide,
unscathed by storm or wind or tide,
called out to us, to net and rake,
to capture you, for heaven’s sake.

At first, we could not see you clearly,
but something said that you were nearly
under foot, so prods and pokes
found sacraments in muddy cloaks.

The altar’s set, so now you bask
where shower curtain holds the task
of later cleanup — one we dread:
the mess we make, the shells you shed!

So rest upon our kitchen floor —
such blue-eyed winks we do adore.
We honor you — your smiles, your spurts,
additions to our just desserts.

For all that you have done for us —
for nature’s offering hard-won for us —
for beckoning once again this year
we cannot help but drop one tear.

It’s not, we know, enough to feel
our sorrow, nor lament, nor kneel,
nor ask forgiveness, nor net regret,
But, hopefully, we pay our debt

with appetites as big as grace,
that you might know your sacred place
upon our table, and in our lives:
as creation’s link to paradise.

Marcia Klepper-Smith is a semiretired pastoral counselor, former hospital chaplain, inward wanderer, practitioner of meditative arts (including “Clam Therapy”); a John-Alley-dubbed wash-ashore who has been drifting on and off the Island since 1979 and has finally found anchor (a.k.a. home) here.