On San Gregorio Beach

Mussel shell, with limpets

The mother of all life
stretches before me, rolls, roars,
licks the shore
devourer of all life
she eats the soft parts first
spits out the harder bits
they litter the beach

I pick my way through the bleached
remains of trees
a driftwood jungle, a tumble
of disjointed crab legs
hollowed-out halves of clams
the carapace of a prawn

The last storm ripped up
whips of kelp from the
ocean’s womb, still wet
and shining, feeding swarms
of flies

A gaping mussel shell
disgorged upon the strand,
encrusted with the husks of limpets,
I pick it up, shake out the sand

pick through wisps of memories
of aging comrades
one lies paralyzed
another is losing her eyes

another no longer knows
me, or her son
I stumble among the ghosts
of those already gone

now the wind picks up, sighs
like grains of time dropping
through my hands
whispering, you too shall die

and yet, and yet
processions of brown pelicans
float silent through the sky
gulls dance at the edge of the surf
dance among morsels
the waters toss up, picking, picking
reminding me
that we are still

alive and kicking

9 Responses to On San Gregorio Beach

  1. Mary Ann Aschenbrenner November 5, 2023 at 3:19 pm #

    Love this, especially the last line!

  2. Connie O Byrne November 5, 2023 at 5:04 pm #

    WOW!! that’s all I can say. You never cease to.amaze me. thank you.

    Now I need to track down a copy of your book of poems…or did I imagine you publishing one? Refresh my memory please. If this poem was a taste of your past work reading it is a must!!!


  3. Martha Shelley November 5, 2023 at 9:28 pm #

    You can order my most recent book of poetry at https://ebisupublications.com/.

  4. Connie O Byrne November 5, 2023 at 10:15 pm #

    thank you thank you thank you…and I have two friends I’ve been sharing your posts with who were equally blown away. And since this was Remembrance Sunday for my Unitarian Universalist congregation, it was almost as if you had written it for us!!!

  5. Martha Shelley November 5, 2023 at 11:01 pm #

    Wow! I’m delighted.

  6. Debra November 6, 2023 at 9:07 am #


  7. Louise D Bernikow November 6, 2023 at 10:07 am #

    O Martha, just “oh” — teary and hopeful, still kicking, but not as high..xox

  8. Yehudit November 9, 2023 at 6:15 pm #


Leave a Reply

Privacy Policy

We do not retain any credit card information
and will not sell, lend, or otherwise transfer your
contact information to anyone, ever.