Scallop Shell

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See them at low tide, scallop shells glittering on a scallop-edged shore,

whittled by water into curvy rows the shape of waves that kiss the sand

only to erode it. Today I walked that shoreline, humming,

Camino Santiago, the road to St. James’s tomb, where pilgrims traveled,

scallop badges on their capes, and chanted prayers for a miracle to cure

disease. And so I, stirred by their purpose,

hunted for scallop shells shaped like pleated fans, with mouths that open and close

to steer them from predators. I scooped up a fan and blew off sand grains, thinking,

for that one moment, of how Saint James’ body

rose from sea decked with scallops, and of this empty beach in another austere time.

Unholy pilgrim, I implore the scallop shell,

silvery half-moon, save us.