The Beach: Jim Beckta

What is the name of  that  little inter-tidal creature
that looks so innocent and inviting
until you drop a bit of something into it
and it clamps shut and grinds it up for food.
The dead ones have bits of white shell in their bottoms
that were once the skeletons of wandering life
that became food.
How big do you have to be
before you can survive being caught in one of them.
They are all mouth and grinding muscles.
Sea animal as gizzard or is it the opposite?
The waves wash in to cover it and bring it food.
First the little waves that lap at your feet,
then the larger ones that push you back up the shore.
Then the tide moves in.
The tide.
That really opens up those little critters
leaving them hopeful that some unsuspecting creature
walking underwater up the beach… then wham. Gotcha.
And it’s one big stomach muscle grinding up another lunch.
I touch it with my finger but it won’t bite.
It knows the difference between something big and hostile
and something, well, lunch size.
Is there one the size of me.
Say, the size of a big barrel
that I might accidentally step into
and have this great round muscle grip me
and inject me with paralysing toxins
which makes me give up the fight and become….
Are there mid-size ones that I can practice on.
Or will they reject me immediately
knowing I’m only playing around.
What about her?
I felt  like we were doing a dance around each other,
at one moment erotic,
then trying to cover, mother, smother the other.
She was the wild woman
who would suck you into her uterus and …..
some men were stronger than others.
Some dropped out limp, others, reborn.
Further down the beach, behind the waterfall is a cave.
I found it last summer when it was warm enough outside
to walk barefoot.
I crawled up over the rocks
so I could get washed by the spray of the waterfall
and saw, down there, the cave’s dark opening.
There were sounds coming out.
It was talking to the sea.
And I was there, between them,
listening to this great back and forth
between two mammoths.
And felt so small.
I didn’t want to walk into it,
just listen to its  in-breath,
carrying the song of the sea,
then listen for the time when it exhaled.