The Shell

A mother lost in mothering
Ran by the sea. A small girl, perhaps five,
Ran ahead of her. The brown striped shell,
A triton, lay lodged in the shore.
Wet sand sucked at the shell in her hand,
Pulling. The mother was sure
It was hers, her gift from the sea,
Calling her out of sacrifice like a horn.
“Look what the sea gave me!”
“I saw it first,” claimed the girl.
Blind in the deep layer of motherhood,
Newly photophagic, the woman refused
To hand it over like a good mother would.
The child would have to pout.
For thirteen years, the woman kept
The shell on a shelf, reminder
Of her in-winding self, the empty sea
Of her own ear, and didn’t budge
When her growing daughter yearly
Told her who saw the shell first.
The day the girl left home a woman,
The mother packed the shell in her duffel
Like a prayer she would some day hear.


7 Responses to “The Shell”

  1. Fey says:

    Wow. I enjoyed this so much. Amazing final line.

  2. Neal Bullard says:

    This is a very nice poem. It brings back memories of a time when my daughters were young and we walked the tide pools together collecting shells, catching crabs and other ocean wildlife. Such a joy it was!

    • wordweed says:

      Hi Neal,
      It was nice meeting you at the opening a few weeks ago. Thanks for visiting my blog! I’m glad the poem brings back good memories for you.

      • Neal Bullard says:

        The pleasure was mine. In reading your collection I can see that there is much of your life interwoven in the words and phrases. They are a wonderful and mysterious extension of you.

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