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The Star Fish Story

“Do you want to pet the starfish?” the young woman at the museum’s petting exhibit asked.
She did not tell me the exhibit was for kids. She did not ask me to push away from the rail. She made room for my curiosity. She showed me the starfish’s mouth, and its eyes. She said, “It’s softer than it looks.” She let me hold the star fish until it curled its spiny arms around my fingers. When she was finished, she said:
“Would you like to hold the sea urchin?”
The old woman seated at the seashell table crooned like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, enticing everyone who walked past. “Do you pick up shells on the beach? Do you want to see the shells?”
I did.
She showed me the oyster drill, a tiny bit of animal responsible for the perfectly round holes you find in shells from time to time. Drilled, it turns out, so the insides can be sucked and eaten. Murder. The holes make it perfect for stringing shells on fishing wire, though.
“Oh, look! Look at that!” the woman exclaims in a too-highly pitched voice. I can tell she’s a grandmother, working hard to make the world seem exciting for her grandchild.
Here among the sharks’ teeth and whooshing tides and cottonmouths poised to strike and woven birds’ nests full of speckled eggs and star fish waiting to be petted—she feels she must gin up enthusiasm for the wonder of this earth.

here’s to creative synthesis . . .

petting star fish, sea urchin, star fish

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