The Chambered Nautilus (not the Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. version but one much flimsier which will certainly be lost in the test of time)


I am not a living fossil – our bodies

rarely last past the first swash

of sun, rot, seal jowls.

400 million years of relative

boredom, swimming round circles

in our heads, catching falling morsels

of light in our empty eyes.

400 million years of relative

perfection. And now

you want to snip the rivers that spill my heart

of blue, to clean

of brain and stomach the empty shell, to sanitize

it with chemicals (the same ones in toy trucks

that glue your children’s eyes shut)

and sell that shell to other bright-eyed people –

their eyelids, also, closed

to 400 million years –

Inconsequential as a fingernail to me,

special as a 1777 bottle of wine to you.

Funny how that goes

From a time before language

language will keep me (after your hands slip and crack),

crippling the sea

of syntax

like a bridal gown the day

after, spent and



*** Please (re)read Sir Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.’s poem “The Chambered Nautilus”; It is much better than mine:

Image credits in order of appearance:

By Chris 73 / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By © Hans Hillewaert, CC BY-SA 4.0,


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