'Moonsnail Song'

Story Time

June 16, 1999|By Sheryl McFarlane

Editor's note: April daydreams about the seashore and her search for the elusive moonsnail.

April has a hidden treasure.

It sings her to the sea.

Her moonsnail sings of tidal flats,

of water-rippled sandy shores

and otter rolling in swaying kelp.

It whispers of the misty morning fogs,

and sea salt air.

Her moonsnail sings a harmony

of sideways scuttling crabs

and driftwood tangles on the rocks,

of crying gulls and crashing waves

beating out their rhythm against the rocky shore.

In and out

Out and in.

Like the rhythm of April's feet on the sidewalk

as she skips rope in the park.

Like the rhythm of her heartbeat

as she skips her way to school.

And later April daydreams at her desk.

Her fingertips follow moonsnail whorls to hermit crabs

and tidepool sculpin

sea urchins and much more,

barnacles, anemones and a dozen different sea stars.

Without moving she has come to her favourite rocky shore,

where frothy spray reaches for the jutting cliffs

and a solitary raven's call

is barely heard above the pounding of the sea.

After dinner April traces moonsnail patterns

on the table that she wipes,

While steady muffled bass of her brother's music

beats out the rhythm of the sea.

In and out.

Out and in.

Salt water ripples gently over sand

and April searches for a moonsnail.

She stoops to touch a slippery eggcase

made of slime and sand and a million unhatched eggs.

Although moonsnails elude her,

she finds a shell to bring back home.

The phone is ringing.

Hurried footsteps thump down stairs,

but April hardly hears.

Do moonsnails feel the tides

under all that sand and mud?

she wonders.

Later, as twilight cloaks her street,

April lingers in the bath.

Her fingers trace the spirals of her shell

and she is almost there,

carried on the whorls of her moonsnail,

like a scoter on the surf.

To sandy shores strewn with bleached sand dollars

of delicate design

and stranded jellyfish pale as moonlight.

To oyster beds piled ankle deep,

and swaying strands of eelgrass

hiding shrimp and snails and ghostly nudibranchs.

The music of her feet slapping summer sand is

a plover's nimble dance

keeping time with gentle lapping waves.

In and out.

Out and in.

The ocean keeps its rhythmic beat

from dawn to dusk and dusk to dawn.

In and out.

Out and in.

The ripples of her bath sing April's ocean song.

From April's bedroom window

the breeze plays on her skin.

Her moonsnail shell sings softly of pale moonlight

and phosphorescent midnight seas,

and she can almost smell the sea fresh air.

Whispering maples gently sway outside her window,

while April drifts in and out of sleep.

Moonlit bats flutter by,

swooping through arbutus trees,

catching insects on the wing

as they ride the offshore breeze.

In and out.

Out and in.

The ocean sings its lapping song.

In and out.

Out and in.

Whispers April's sleeping song,

from dusk to dawn,

April dreams the sea.

From MOONSNAIL SONG by Sheryl McFarlane; illustrated by Sheena Lott. Text copyright (c) 1994 by Sheryl McFarlane; illustrations copyright (c) 1994 by Sheena Lott. Used by permission of Orca Book Publishers.

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