A Word In Your Shell Please!

top shell 

To all humble ‘Gastropods:’ snails, slugs and sea beings

Do you know your Cup-and-Saucer from your Goblet?
Your Trumpet from your Harp?
Your Hat from your Bonnet?
Your Helmet from your Mitre?
Your Gazza from your Babylon?
Your Chinencis from your Arabica?

Who decided that Cerith was False?
That an unfamiliar ‘Gastropod’ was a Creeper or a Hornmouth?
Such Colos Distorsio has left many feeling Druped!
Turnips, Turrets, Turbans and Tulips are not Trivia.
Nor are all winkles Prickly, or all shells Hairy or Hoof.
No Egg Shell deserves treading on, but to speak Succinta:
Such ignorance has created an oceanic Fusus.

It’s time to burst the metaphorical Bubble,
About man’s so-called ‘right’ to Auger himself;
Above the Worm Snail or the Conch.
In truth, we have made a Dog’s Whelk Pupa,
Of inter-species relations.
We have put our Pelican’s Foot right in it,
Insulting Japelions, Truncaria and Spindle.

We need to start thinking Dove Shell, Sea Butterfly, Olive
And call a Morum, on our preposterous arrogance.
No Frog Shell, Sea Hare, Woodlouse,
No Spider Conch, Pheasant or Ostrich Foot,
Was born to be a Stair Shell, a Necklace Shell,
An Ear Shell, Cap Shell, or Pagoda Shell;
A Slipper Limpet, Ivory Shell, a Sundial, or Vase.
To be painfully Slit Shell, Coral Snail, Gibbula;
To become a Siphon Limpet, Penion Punctata,
Puncturella, Drill and Demoulia:
Boiled alive in a man-made Rimula, Cone.

No Monodont, no Nautilus,
Ever wanted to fly into space with Nassa,
Separatista from family, from young ones;
Sent off in a Shuttle, a Carrier Shell, Pteropod.
A Sea Slug forced to become a Moon Snail, Star Shell, Solarelle.
Ejected from Planaxis Teres: an ‘experimental’ subject.

Did they even bother to get to know their names?
Daphnella, Delphinula, Dwarf Olive, Janthina,
Margarite, Abelone, Ormer, Jopas,
Simnia, Nutmeg, Maurea, Engina…
Such Lyria, such Purple Modulus!
…In the apparently Miscellanea.

I speak to you Vertagus
From the Wentletrap to the Fig Shell,
The Paua was never meant to be with us.

You too would become Rock Shell, Stone Shell;
Pythia, Stolida; Strombina;
And feel Rapa, with nothing to Vitularia about
If you were they.

We are not – and never were – Top Shell.


Heidi Stephenson
Montage: Claire Palmer

By Heidi Stephenson

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