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White Shells


Then there was beauty in what clung,
vertical and multiple against a damp tombstone
where no one goes, or has gone forever,
the stone carved in another language
and the weed-life overgrown.
We knew they must know movement,
but they would not move
while being what they meant to us.
Where the headstone's windowpane
meant to protect the crucifix and photograph
was cracked apart, we saw how
on its inward, wetter side,
the infant shells began self-generation in a line
like vowels strung inside a child's understanding:
this belongs to this. O perfect succulence
with which interiors adhere to forms, O open mouths.
Should we have found the world more often
clinging to words describing it? 
What would have been the afterlife of that?

From The Ardors by Kathleen Peirce. Copyright © 2004 by Kathleen Peirce. Reprinted by permission of Ausable Press. All rights reserved.

From The Ardors by Kathleen Peirce. Copyright © 2004 by Kathleen Peirce. Reprinted by permission of Ausable Press. All rights reserved.

Kathleen Peirce