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Even a Keyhole Limpet Bears Scars

Updated on November 12, 2011
We each have a soft spot for love
We each have a soft spot for love

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

Almost threatening,

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.


Submit a Comment

  • Dim Flaxenwick profile image

    Dim Flaxenwick 

    6 years ago from Great Britain

    Very interesting. Lots l didn´t know.

    Thank you

  • IdeaMorphist profile image


    6 years ago from Chicagoland



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