In My Shell by Christine Marie Mason

In my shell (said the Abalone)

In my shell (said the Abalone)

In my shell (said the Abalone)

“He’s such a shark.”
Even the Apex predators garner only vague respect.

Mostly it’s:
“Such a Shrimp”
“Slow as a Turtle”
“Such a Crab”
“Red as a Lobster”
“Such a Whale”

There is NO single sea creature that you can call someone and have it be considered a compliment.

You know the power of the oceans, of course, but even the human gods you have given dominion to, Poseidon and Neptune with their tridents and seaweed beards, are no longer summoned by you. They are the ghetto gods, even Hades does better. You call your daughters Artemis and Venus and Diana, or your sons Zeus. But Neptune? He’s been demoted – an old dive bar in some third rate resort town playing Margaritaville. Poseidon? a rickety roller coaster in Kansas.
When you are a-sail or a-surf, you taste triumphantly the temporary harmony, like the riding of a mechanical bull; but whoa to he who is man-overboard, she who is caught in the undertow, the undertoad, the vast unpredictability, the sea of Grendel, what lurks there but us dumb creatures who, despite our stupidity, know a trick you will never master: we can breathe the water. You think of the hammerhead and the spearfish and the swordfish, of the bite of the sea. In your fear and shock and awe you leave us 5/6ths of the earth’s surface, and all of her vast underbellies and deep currents, while you are moored in u-boats tugs steamships clinging to the shorelines, poaching us and dredging us in breadcrumbs and butter and frying us up and thinking somehow you understand the sea. Sea food. See food.
Yet every time you are flippers-up hunting for abalone some part of you knows

it could be your last breath. A twist in the line maybe. A rogue wave. Never turn your back on the ocean.
When you think of suicide, you think of surrendering to the sea. Of jumping off bridges or cruise ships or cliffs. Of wading just far enough out, chest deep, until the current is in charge and you can lay your head back in the mother pool and let it take you home, the body fish food, the soul swimming again in the ocean of love.
There is a theory among those of us who live close to the edge, in the liminal places and the tide pools, we hear stories come in on the waves. There, the dozen men who come each day in the magic light of sunrise with their trash bags to pick up the plastic debris scuttering on the tide – a Siamese cat piggy bank or some old flip flops or a Fiji Water bottle, all now in bits on the beaches. You KNOW where it comes from: the great gyre in the horse lattitudes, the horseshit lassitudes, the hypocrite platitudes.  No one fixes it. It’s because you love / hate the ocean.

In the meanwhile, I am only a mute creature, here in my shell, clinging to a rock. The sea comes in and out of my house, I am nourished and provided for all the day long, filtering in nutrients and being sung the song of the currents, which you will never hear. I listen all day to Radio W-A-V-E, Ocean City. It may seem humble, my camouflage, my stone exterior, my immoveable life, but inside this shelter the tender softness of me is surrounded by only beauty: infinite pearlescent, iridescent, luminescent aquas blues and pinks and greens and yellows.

The sea provides for me, I love her, and I am happy.


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