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Poem: Mothershell

From our poet of the month: Andrea Potos

Woman holding seashell


“I stand here now, gathering shells / whenever they appear. I hold them up / to my ears.”


       Death is what mothers do alone
       daughters cannot come along,
       or pause the creaking boat. 
                                    - Sally Nacker 

A small current was all it took
to usher you out, onto that strip of silver light
laid down for you, 
the relief of your smile meeting the stars.
I knew I had no say in any of it;
I stand here now, gathering shells
whenever they appear. I hold them up
to my ears.  On certain days 
inside their silence I can hear
the echoes of your voice.

From Mothershell by Andrea Potos. ©Andrea Potos and reprinted by permission of Kelsay Books.

Listen to Andrea Potos read “Mothershell.

Andrea Potos shared her insight with S&H:

I have always gravitated to images of water. As a child I loved to hold big seashells up to my ear and listen, as if on one end of the telephone, to the ghostly roar of the ocean. One of the poet’s whose work I return to often, Sally Nacker in her collection Night Snow, wrote eloquently about her own mother’s passing. Sally’s image of her mother in the boat spoke to me immediately. Her words helped me to find my own, to envision my mother, in all her beauty and relief, quietly and slowly moving away. There was nothing I could do; this was not about me. But, always, I would be listening for her voice.

About the Author

Andrea Potos

Andrea Potos is the author of nine poetry collections, including Mothershell (Kelsay Books), A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry), and Arrows of Light (Iris Press). Her poems have been published widely in print and online, including in The Sun, Poetry East, Peacock Journal, and Traveling, art, and family give Andrea the greatest inspirations for her work.  She can usually be found in cafes, writing by longhand, using notebooks with creamy and smooth pages.  She lives in Madison, Wisconsin. 

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