Bright shiny things


I forgot to take my camera to the beach this morning, always a mistake. Here, instead, is a picture of plastic on the beach, taken a few months ago.

And here are two mental pictures taken this morning:

A young seagull, brown of feather and a good distance from its flock, holding a plastic sandwich bag in its beak protectively, as if it were a tasty morsel of food. As I walked along, it moved away, pecking at the bag intently while keeping one eye on me; the bag did appear to have peanut butter on it, or something. I stopped, as did the gull, and the bag shone, backlit by the rising sun, as if it were a jewel, or glass.

Another seagull, its wings splayed on the ground just above the tideline, with small ridges of sand running back toward the sea. Its head and body were gone, though; all that remained were two fine, golden, recently exposed breastbones, reflecting the sun as the wings cast a long shadow. The first word that came to mind was “crucifixion,” which was strange, since I rarely make connections with Christian imagery. It was an uncanny sight.

It has been a jellyfish beach of late, with dozens of large, whole creatures washing up, their shiny, gelatinous bodies the color of diluted apricot jam. They have stubby tendrils (I won’t call them tentacles, they’re too short) and a satisfying heft as you hurl them back into the waves to watch them float, weightless. I wonder if the seagull had mistaken the baggie for this more edible option, though I have to agree with his choice of peanut butter over jelly.

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