"Consider the Lilies of the Sea" by Anne Porter

Consider the Lilies of the Sea by Anne Porter

Their salt wet life erased, eroded, only
The shells of snails lie on the sand,
Their color darkens toward the whorl’s conclusion,
The center is nearly black. Even the fragments
Faithfully observe their tribal custom
Of involution; the motionless whirlpool
Is clearly written on the broken shield.

The two jointed petals of a small
Tooth-white clamshell stand ajar, and mimic
The opening of wings or of a songbook;
Leaves that a minute and obscure
Death sprung open in a depth of sea;
Held in one’s hand, they still present
The light obedient gesture that let go of time.

And close to these frail, scattered, and abandoned
Carvings which were the armor and the art
Of dark blind jellies that the fish have eaten,
The big Atlantic cumulates and pours,
Flashes, is felled, and streaks among the pebbles
With wildfire foam.

+ Anne Porter