As kids we found starfish of all different colors and we saved them. It would be better if they were not saved by us. We kept them alive for a short while in buckets and pails of salt water, but then they dried out and then they smelled like seawater and brine and dead fish. They were prickly to the touch where their fingers touch the rocks; those fingers dried out. We would hide the dried starfish in our clothes and by the time we got back to the school, our clothes smelled of dried fish. Our hair. Our hands. We would also have shells, dried seaweed, wood, rocks and the feathers of dead birds we’d found.
When I left the Farm, I looked through my stuff. I found one starfish, threads of dried seaweed, a few rocks, and a pile of pine needles. The pine needles were thickened with pine sap. I left all that behind. I was travelling light and for the next few years, I continued to be very careful what pine needles I collected, what shells, what rocks, what books. I needed to be able to pick up my stuff and walk. Now, I have a lot of books.
This weekend I will go to where the starfish are, but not to collect them. I will touch their tiny fingers, and they will touch mine.