When you are not Catholic
and do not fast at Yom Kippur
Poetry must be your only form of
So, here is a story:
When I was a child, no more
than five, I found a closed shell
on a beach. Cold and grey, it fit
inside the palm of my hands like
a prayer, clasped and closed tight.
I wanted nothing
more than to see
the animal inside.
Half in love with rebellion, I glanced
at my parents and turned my back,
took small sandy steps to the breakwater,
where stones older than me promised revelation.
I operated under the logic of a game:
rock, paper, scissors. Something will win.
The shell split with the perfect symmetry
of weather: one front giving way to the next.
Small broken pieces of shell fell onto my toes
and then I could not look
at what I had so desperately
wanted to see,
because the awful, stony silence that descended
cracked open my skin,
looked inside to see the ugly pink muscle
of my selfishness
and the terrible, sudden realization:
We can never be unmade.