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Looking For Sharks' Teeth


Of all the things people look for on our beach, sharks' teeth are by far the most coveted. In all my time here, I think I've seen almost one shark's tooth. They're tiny and black, the way your teeth would probably be if all you ate was seafood and never brushed. It's a blessing that nature gives them multiple sets.

Anyway, some people comb this beach for sharks' teeth many hours a day, many days a week. Apparently, there's a market for such things. People like to wear them, as necklaces, perhaps as a way of warning the rest of the world, "Don't mess with me. See? I have the tooth of a shark. Do I have to spell it out for you?"

Considering that the beach where we live consists of acres and acres of dune after dune of crushed seashells of all colors, I think it's a wonder anyone ever finds any sharks' teeth at all. Finding a needle in a haystack would be a cakewalk compared to finding a shark's tooth here—I mean, these are really tiny teeth we're talking about, not something out of a major motion picture. But, you know, Supersoul has a way of giving us all the vision to see precisely what we want to see.

Then one day I considered that a writer is someone who searches for words, as painstakingly as a beachcomber, to achieve the most clear and compelling result possible. As e.e. cummings said, "Like the burlesque comedian, I am abnormally fond of that precision which creates movement." Finding just the right words with which to say something is like sifting through acres of shells trying to find the hidden sharks' teeth. You want something that will grab someone and not let them go.

(Photo of an endless search for sharks' teeth courtesy of ILoveShelling.com)