tickets to the clam show

Image

Razor clam and chanterelle chowder

tickets to the clam show
(and it is a
must-see show—one does not
wish to leave
empty-handed,
unfulfilled)
can be obtained at
the local fred meyer (or
similar such emporia)
for thirteen dollars—the price
for legal permission to pull
from the sand
fifteen razor clams per
designated day, at designated sites
along the evergreen state coast,
for a year thence—plus
money for gas, plus
money to pitch in
for the twenty-eight-dollar
surfside campsite
at grayland beach
state park

included is a campfire-lit dinner
for four: cold cuts, raw almonds,
fruit and a seeded loaf; tortilla chips
and homemade guacamole; also
white-bean soup
poured from
a thermos,
served with a screwtop red—a
five-grape blend, this upper-low-shelf wine—and
cinnamon whiskey to chase

as befits any headline
performer
of even
modest renown,
it is well after dark
when the show starts,
when the tidal curtain
is drawn back
and the glassy
wave-packed
proscenium revealed, bare
and glistening
under headlamps and
lanterns and
a fine-hewn
sliver of moon,
pocked and dimpled
with clams

as backdrop to the
bivalve revue are
dual empyria:
innumerable luminaries above
crowding the
cloudless night—orion
opposite the bull, big dipper
slung low
over the horizon, mars
rubicund beside the teeming
pleiades—paired with
equally illimitable
luminaries below:
each footfall triggering
a blue-green pulse
of luminescence—the panicked flight
of noctiluca
dinoflagellates—their
scintillating corpuscles
a living constellation
on the sand, flashing,
fleeting,
gone

in the morning
a wake-up call—more of
a chatter, really,
a passerine buzz—is
provided by the juncos,
the varied and hermit
thrushes, the
ravens; they herald
a freezer-burnt beachscape
unveiled in the light:
sand frozen into
frost-capped waves;
icy sheets of standing
water, yards across
and inches deep;
rime-crusted saltgrass
and gnarled mushrooms
and wandering
strawberry, all rutilant
in the glaring sun

all this covered
by the cost of
a ticket
to the clam show

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