Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Cowry Shell Speaks in Poem #268

Listening to Sea Voices
Photo by Mark LV

Cowry Shell
Photo by Amy LV

This is another one of my favorite-kind-of-poem-to-write-poems.  I love poems where inanimate objects talk.  It is such fun to imagine what they might think and say.

Students - one of my favorite parts of daily writing is the mystery of not knowing what poem will be born each day.  Last evening, I thought to myself, "I have no idea what to write!"  Then, somehow, I began thinking about rocks and shells and how they often take long journeys in people's pockets, journeys that lead them far far away from their places of origin. 

The tiger cowry shell in these photos has such a story, though I don't know all of it.  This big shell came into my hands through an auction.  Near our home, Gentner's Commission Market, in Springville, NY, opens up on Wednesdays during much of the year.  Last spring, Mark and I went to the auction and just as a whole table was about to be sold as a whole, I decided to bid $3.00 on a wooden plate holding three large shells.  With the exchange of 300 cents, this shell, once alive, came into my possession.  Last night, I picked it up from my messy desk and felt its cool breathing in my ear.

It is good to hold something when you write, to feel edges, textures, sides, shapes and rough spots.  Try it.  Find an object you wish to write about, and as you write, take little breaks to simply hold it and understand it deeply.

When I was a little girl, I had a shell collection.  In particular, I remember one little yellow cowry shell.  It reminded me of a mouth.  Did you know that cowry shells were once used as money?  Here's a drum rhyme about a cowry shell used as money, from OFF TO THE SWEET SHORES OF AFRICA, by Uzoamaka Chinyelu Unobagha.

If you seek a book full of ocean critter poems, seek no longer.

Mary Lee will host Poetry Friday tomorrow over at A Year of Reading.  

ps - If you were wondering, this type of shell may be spelled cowry or cowrie.

Please click on COMMENTS below to share a thought.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Toby! I love shells. It was time for a new haircut - new picture!

    Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones (including the not-so fictional characters you created!)


    ps - Word verification is "prospers" - I think this means good things in 2011 for you!