Even a Keyhole Limpet Bears Scars
The beauty of shells
Even a Keyhole Limpet Bears Scars
The keyhole limpet is a strong shell
Crisscrossed ribs ensconce it in protection
The way our ribs encase our hearts
But no heart is exempt from scarring
Various versions of the keyhole limpet have evolved
Barbados Keyhole Limpet
with strong radiating ribs
creating inner concentric circles of beauty
Thick Emarginula with up to 50 radiating ribs
Intersected by additional spines
A grid of durability
Lister’s Keyhole Limpet
With hardened nodes
At the cross section of radiating and concentric ribs
The point is always the same:
Protect the interior
To the touch, each is hardened
Rough and solid
Warning you away
But deep inside where few can see and fewer can reach
Lies a horseshoe shaped muscle scar
The tears of a broken heart
Trying to heal
Beyond the Poem
This poem is part of a series of poems inspired by my research into different types of shells. I find the world of shells endlessly inspiring. They are beautiful and unique, sometimes fragile and sometimes shockingly strong. There are so many things in this world that juxtapose hard and soft and shells to me are the ultimate embodiment of all of the imagery that goes along with that.
On the surface, this poem is about one specific type of shell: the keyhole limpet. As we learn in the poem, this is a type of shell that has a hard exterior but a soft spot on the inside. Different types of the shell evolved over the years as nature tried to perfect its exterior design. One of the things that I want to do in this series of poems and that I hope I achieved here is to accurately describe some of the key features of a specific type of shell so that even someone who doesn’t know anything about shells can get a sense of what makes the shell unique in its design.
Of course, few poems are actually about what they appear to be about on the surface and this one is no exception. Although it is about a specific type of shell, it is really about the way that we erect boundaries and walls around our hearts in order to protect them against pain but there is always a soft spot inside that can be reached by someone who is diligent enough, caring enough or just plain right enough. I believe that each of us has a horseshoe-shaped muscle scar on the heart just like the keyhole limpet shell has.
The original version of this poem was significantly longer than this version. I tend to get wordy and sometimes like to add different parts and lines and descriptions to try to paint a whole picture. However I was careful to try to edit this poem down to the bare bones needed to express the idea. I did this not only because it’s a good practice in poem-writing but also because I believe that the less-is-more approach is the right approach for a description of something as simple yet complex as the nature of a shell.
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