August, I walk this shore in search of wholeness
among snapped razor clams and footless quahogs.
How easily my palm cradles a moon shell
coughed up on shore. I stroke the fragments
as, last night, I stroked your arm
smelling of salt, scrubbed clean by the sea air.
Once you loped near me. Now, in my mind’s eye,
your rubbery footsoles track sand hills
the shape of waves you no longer straddle.
You inch forward, step, comma, pause,
your silences the wordless rage of pain.
But still at night our bodies merge in sleep
and fit unbroken, like the one perfect shell
I’ve never found and can only imagine —
and crack when we’re apart. I clutch the moon shell,
guardian of unknowing, chipped and silent,
until I fling it down and feel its loss.
Broken, it fit my hand and I was whole.
This poem previously appeared in The Kenyon Review. Grace Schulman, who lives part time in Springs, has a new collection of poems, “Without a Claim,” coming out in the fall of 2013. She will read from her work at Canio’s Books in Sag Harbor on Aug. 4 at 5 p.m.