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One hundred thousand bits of colored shell,
broken crabs and strands of twisted grass,
torn from shallow ocean beds by storm
or by the ceaseless pull of lunar tides,
lie among the shifting grains of sand
'till wind and waves and hungry terns and gulls
return them to the earth from which they came.

Each of these – each shell or crab or twisted strand of grass,
each hungry tern or gull or little creature of the sand,
and I, who see the pattern which they form
between the sky that silhouettes the dunes
and waves beneath whose depths may pass leviathan
or some great shark that stirs the fear of men

Each of these a separate life does sign,
a self unique as any grain of sand,
separate from all others, but a part
of that great pattern formed by tides
and creatures living off each other; off the shells
that like themselves did sign a separate life,
a self which in the end, like every other,
must recede into that pattern which they form,
no longer to be separate but a part.