cover image Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts and What Remains

Walking the Wrack Line: On Tidal Shifts and What Remains

Barbara Hurd, . . Univ. of Georgia, $22.95 (117pp) ISBN 978-0-82-033102-7

In these rich essays, Hurd (Stirring the Mud ) wanders the shoreline in search of meaning. Meandering along beaches from Massachusetts to Morocco, she sifts through shells, flotsam and driftwood, finding mythology and metaphor almost in spite of herself. “Am I looking for clues?” she asks, “I’d like to think not.... Yet it’s hard to resist: we’re doomed, it seems to try to make meaning.” Examining a moon snail, a gastropod that surrounds a clam with its oversized foot and invades it with its tongue, she finds its proportions “unseemly” and concludes that “a certain beauty recedes when hunger and threats intensify.” Walking a beach of glass pebbles beaten smooth by the waves, she admires the sea’s ability to transform human carelessness and reflects, “If there is such a thing as transformation, perhaps the smaller manifestation is the more reliable.” While Hurd’s careful depictions of found objects are delightful, her attempts to relate them to human affairs are occasionally hackneyed. Still, this lyrical book with its scrupulous attention to language and the world will please poets and naturalists alike. (June)