I was sitting on the beach
     Playing in the sand
     Marking on the earth
     Raking with my hand.

Row by row
     Curve by curve
         Pattern by pattern

I tried to draw clean, perfect lines,
Like Zen rock gardening,
But my nails kept hitting tiny shells
Always hard and startling.

Row by row
     Sand by shell
         Soft by hard

So I claimed a section of the sand,
A piece of beach that would be mine,
I tried to clear away each shell
So I could draw my perfect lines.

One by one
     Toss by toss
         Over and over

Everytime I dug one out
My fingers found a couple more
I didn’t see the sun roll by
The sun ignored me on the shore

Minute by minute
     Hour by hour
         Wave by wave

I’d come too far to give it up
Or to admit futility
So I stayed all day throwing shells away
Seeking life without debris.