Beach Glass

This entry is part 11 of 29 in the series Conversari

Among the cobbles of a shingle beach,
one thumb-sized stone draws
your beachcomber’s eye, too pure a blue
to be granite, opaque but somehow
promising translucence.

A wave clatters up & wets
your ankles. You grab for the stone,
now glistening—clearly glass
& once a shard, despite the loss
of all sharp edges &
its transformation from fragment
to a whole small world.
It has turned & turned in the bay’s
watery gullet, that precipitous gizzard
full of ersatz teeth.
What smaller, softer things
has it ground down as it spun?

It dries in your hand now & the light
goes out of it. Eager to show the children,
you pop it in your mouth
& it is a gem again while the saliva lasts.

It rides home in your pocket,
a hard candy that never melts
& takes days to lose
its taste of salted sun.

Prompted by this conversation.

See the response by Rachel Rawlins, “Shoulder.”

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

10 Comments


  1. Man! I spent the day yesterday mouthing the boulders of a fog-damp gorge.

    Reply

  2. the taste of salted sun – beautiful.

    I love sea glass (and sea ceramics too) but have never put it in my mouth!

    Reply

    1. I can’t take credit for that last line, which I agree is the best in the poem — it came almost verbatim from my interlocutor. (She’s a poet and she doesn’t know it.)

      Reply

  3. how beautiful…there are so many nuggets in this poem; the whole thing is one beauty to the next, but especially i love this part:
    “its transformation from fragment
    to a whole small world.”

    AND

    ‘It has turned & turned in the bay’s
    watery gullet, that precipitous gizzard
    full of ersatz teeth.”

    wow.

    Reply

  4. Yes, much to love here, Dave. For what it’s worth, I’m not often at the sea either but found some sea glass on the beach last winter in Jacksonville. Of course I put it in my mouth, and of course it tasted of salt. But I just tried it with a piece here in my studio, a year later, and the salt taste is all gone. The glass still feels great in the mouth though. I guess some of us are just more oral than others!

    Reply

  5. Thanks, all, for your kind words about this poem. I guess it benefitted from its lengthy (for me) gestation period.

    Oddly enough, though I smoked for 14 years and used to suck my thumb as a young child, I’ve never put a piece of beach glass in my mouth that I can recall.

    Reply

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