Queen Conch Ode

by Geraldine Clarkson

You with your meat as heavy
as half the haunch of a woman.
Soft mollusc.
Benthic Bahamian beauty.

Your glossy pink ear,
spiny convolvulus
flares; yielding pearl –
chatoyant, like moiré
silk in the coral seas
you listen to.

You with your stomach-foot
treading on algae; debris.
Your long egg masses.

Long-liver, you love the lapping shallows
the falling-away shelved sand of
Haiti. Prized Strombus hiding
that lump of edible flesh, fish-bait.
Culled for this and for cold
decoration and profit.
Poor poached conch.

Your knuckled shell keeps on thickening
your blood
runs blue with copper.

Rinsed clean, Marine Queen
of the seagrass bed. With your rose lobes,
your musical bones.