I bend toward the remnants of a wedding
caught by morning tides:
plastic glass inscribed Melanie & Jake,
broken disposable fork,
silver shred of Mylar balloon.

I used to comb for winkle shells,
the nacre of mussel and oyster,
an agate, miracle stone that lets
the sunlight through.

Today I stoop and collect
a red bottle cap, a blue one,
then a red-capped syringe.

This beach faces the Straits
where garbage barges head for China
which means out-to-sea
where they off-load bag after bag
with no one watching
except the thin-throated gray whales
with their almost human warnings.

I do not mean to preach. There are those
who say that everything resolves
into a grain of sand. And that the explosion
of polymers is not a slow Hiroshima,
just a new phase of nature: disposable vow
on the deck of a passing cruise ship.

I bend and drop the fragment of a plastic
cup into my burlap sack,
its edge still sharp with a rusty smear
that might be lipstick, might be blood
from the mouth of a harbor seal.