World in a shell

For the dverse prosery prompt, to fit the line from Oliver Wendell Holmes: Through the deep caves of thought, I hear a voice that sings into a 144-word piece of prose.

World in a shell

I hold the shell to my ear and listen to the rise and fall of the ocean. Where are they born, these echoes that roll through the deep? Caves of thought? I hear a voice that sings with the voice of the whales, and the song is older than mankind, old as the ocean and those who first learned the currents and the tides.
The song tells of the making of the world from air and water and woven strands of kelp, the birth of mountains and rivers that run always back to their sea-home. Of trees that mimic coral forests where birds dart like feathered fish.
The shell spirals in and out, chambered like a heart, all the pearly hues of a dawn sky and it sings the ages of the earth until the silence after the final echo, the age of Man.


Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

46 thoughts on “World in a shell”

  1. Jane, you took the shell motif and built a world philosophy around it. The sounds, the seasons, the eons. I love the mirroring above as below the surface of the water, and “the silence after the final echo.”

    1. I bet you’d have the words if you wrote a poem inspired by the line. I persist in thinking that you can’t dump a line of poetry into a prose piece without it drawing attention to itself—oh look, a line of poetry.

      1. I’m actually working on something, but not directly connected to a shell. This is one of the better quotes to work with that we’ve been given I think.

  2. Wonderful way you interwove the line Jane. And this piece really carried me into your creation tale. Excellent my friend!

  3. I love your world in a shell, Jane! We’ve all done it, listened to the sounds in a shell, the questions are familiar, and I can hear that ‘voice of the whales’ as I read your prose. Beautiful imagery in the final paragraph!

    1. Thank you, Kim. When we ‘grow up’ we know the explanation for the sound we hear, but it still doesn’t explain why has nature made such a thing possible? When the shell is empty and ‘dead’ it takes on a different role, and I think it’s marvellous 🙂

      1. That’s a nice way of looking at things. A little retrospective optimism because we are living in that final silence. Btw Jane, I commented on your next post too, but all the comments I left for the elements prompt are in spam. They hopefully haven’t disappeared.

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