Abalone

A perfect ashtray,

or maybe a bowl for stray

buttons, bobby pins, hobbies,

ticket stubs, dice, the rubber

band removed absently

from yesterday's paper:

Shell that forgot

it was ever near the sea -

held to an ear, the sound

of waves so distantly

echoed, it must have been bought

instead of found;

and in other ways mute:

Three holes invite fingers

to cover them, as though

to prepare the note

of an ocarina with no

place to blow. In December,

nails clipped into it

like a sky full of crows,

it could be one of those

rare days in the teens

when the sunset

turns from pink to green:

The abalone rocks

in one's hand - iridescent

omen of lilacs,

slag of auroral fire,

TV screen gone haywire

with zigzags: The blues went

out of the picture; one fears

the problem's not in one's set,

wonders what broadcast

will be seen - better yet,

from where - when at last

the signal clears.

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