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  • Writer's pictureAnne Hodges White

Rare finds in ordinary sea wrack

A late afternoon, ebb-tide walk through sea wrack at Bogue Bank

Remains of seaweed, reduced to its simplest elements—stems, leaves, air pods, seeds, brown and soaked through—and defining the reach and overlap of energy

Low tide at sunset -- Bogue Bank, NC

Cast-off shells of mole crabs—leopard and lynx in miniature

Half a sand dollar, its five white bird-souls flown

Sea urchin quills—tiny white swords—once for locomotion, sensing, protection

Black scallops, their hue a clue to their years in the mud of the salt marsh

Shell of a keyhole limpet, once called a Chinaman’s Hat, now a micro-aggression

A jingle, a shiny shell once used as adornment, traded as currency

White feathers of herring gulls, quills in tact, their zippers stripped and splayed by water and salt

Tassel of a sea oat—take this one home if you must; the ones on the dunes are endangered and protected, so leave those alone please

An unknown shell made unusual art by superimposed worm-path; I think of runes, of Mayan writing

The slim, bleached columella fold of a Scotch Bonnet, the hardest part of the shell—its door, its lip—and evidence of a rough July sea

A jellyfish, plump and translucent, its radial channels still clearly visible. Did it lose its way? Was it hooked? Was it netted? How did it die? It is full of sand it sucked in.

A large polyester square from a seiner’s net—neon blue, needlessly

A Corolla beer bottle cap with plastic covered logo

The 2-hook, 2-weight tackle on 20-test plastic line left by a surf fisher, careless of his property and of the beach. What was this person thinking?

The Bank is far from fragile—it’s designed to migrate, to survive the attack of storm and hurricane, to neaten up the mainland — and shells become sand, and dead mollusks become food, and sea wrack enriches. But there’s this: when we’ve been dead for a million years, only plastic will remain, a thin layer of sediment.

“What’s this white stuff?” some hybrid being might ask in some hybrid language of the distant future.


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