Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry: Shell

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine Poet Laureate

Annie Finch of Falmouth is noted for her symbols, poetic images that radiate special meanings. In today’s haunting poem about a woman who walks the windy coast of Maine alone in late fall, she introduces the symbol of a shell, challenging us to interpret it.

Shell by Annie Finch

and then I felt a yearning
to stare out at the sea—
or simply at the stretching sand—
the waters restlessly
beating with their own chaos in,
as fall’s late wind blew cold
and spoke in whispers at my ear
that I was growing old—
days were growing shorter,
I was growing too,
and soon there would be nothing more
than words that I might rue.
And then I went and folded in
upon myself, and found
in my dark folds a small white shell,
and put it on the ground.

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2012 Annie Finch. Reprinted from The Voice Was The Sea, The Center for the Study of Place, Inc., 2012, by permission of Annie Finch. Questions about submitting to Take Heart may be directed to Gibson Fay-LeBlanc, Special Consultant to the Maine Poet Laureate, at mainepoetlaureate@gmail.com or 207-228-8263. Take Heart: Poems from Maine, an anthology collecting the first two years of this column, is now available from Down East Books.