my conch

my conch

when i was little [just a girl]
i wondered at the sound
of the sea that appeared
when i held the mighty
conch [that is with a ch ending]
to my ear.  where was that ocean
coming from?  like James [and
the Giant Peach],  i entered another
land where Lilliputians ruled
and the mighty were brought
low.  there was one battle where
James and the Lilliputs sallied
forth into the breach of the sea
only to discover the enemy was
a ghost [of Gulliver past].  They
flailed and stabbed and twirled
and fell.  Salt going up their noses
and sand embedding into their
shorts.  They really stirred the
ocean that day!  I heard it all
through my conch [ch-like church].

Then, one day, in the throes of
listening to the yammering on
of the Princess of Shelly, my
father came and wondered what
I was doing with the conch. 
I told about the ghosts and

the Princess [whose name was
Michelle-Ma Belle] and of true love
and battles waged in the sea.

      It really isn't conch.  [Isn't it
      time to put away childish things?] 
      It is conch with a 'k' sound.

I was foolish. 

Dropping the conch [conk?],
it shattered on the sidewalk into
almost as many pieces as my
heart.  I ran away and put on
the armor of righteousness and
the breastplate of adulthood.  Building
empire [walls] and seeking promotion
[of self] becoming very successful
at the centering of self [self-centered]. 
Yes.  My house, my family, my yard. 

This Old House echoed
in my soul.  I could patch and fix
and create a façade that would pass
the most stringent eye [historical
societies would be proud]. 

Stuff, friendships [really?], jobs, family
and intellect filled my waking hours
while I was haunted by the conch in
my dreams.  The smell of seaweed
would return at twilight during the
liminal hour.  Teasing [more like
slapping me in the face] my senses
with remembrances and promises.
This thing that holds no promise of
success or wealth or respect and
admiration [do these people matter?]. 
Somehow my cracked heart
that I had cemented together
would crumble each day.  At twilight.
Foolish child.  It was like facing death
by drowning in the spray of
salt and sea.  Extinguishing the
fire [LED bulb] of my life. 

Extinguished.  It would not
light no matter how hard I shook the
batteries [flashlights are like that].  I
became trapped in the darkening
mist.  Eyes and heart adjusting slowly
to the new reality of neither here
nor there.  Seeing things that were
not revealed by light [LEDs are weak]. 

Now, I know.  The real folly
was putting it all behind me. 

Now I sit [and rock] and listen to my
conch.  My peppered hair splashed
by salty waves [of tears.]  Michelle-
Ma Belle telling me her fears.

Categories: Poetry Spirituality


  1. charlesmashburn said on November 29, 1999
    Great story telling, all the way through. Nicely done!
  2. trisha said on June 29, 2011
    a aoul stirring poem.
    1. Terri said on June 30, 2011
      Thanks. I really got going on this one. I was wondering if it was ever going to end!
  3. dragonkatet said on June 30, 2011
    I enjoyed the way you wrote this - the "asides" in brackets were GREAT! I also liked the overall message and hope that your re-found inner child stays. :)
    1. Terri said on June 30, 2011
      thanks so much! i had fun writing it. and now you can see a little bit of what it is like to live inside my mind (including the "asides!")
  4. Kavita said on July 6, 2011
    What a amazing journey you have taken us on, my friend.. I guess our little conches of childhood always exist, only waiting to be tapped, to be held close to the ear... and when we do, it's the same ocean, the same freshness, the same lilting aromas of wonder... isn't it? I loved how you wove this all into your lovely poem, my friend... beautiful!
  5. David King said on July 20, 2011
    I enjoyed this, found it fresh and personal, almost idiosyncratic - in the best way.
  6. Jingle said on July 20, 2011
    fantastic write. Happy Potluck. you rock. :)
  7. mindlovemisery said on July 22, 2011
    This is really awesome, it's just a tragedy how will lose that sense of identity, of wonder, of magic, of self as we age. I feel children know a lot more about life, what's important at least.

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