On the middle shelf of the glass-and-chrome credenza
In the dining room there was a heavy shell
Brought back by a family friend from the Bahamas.
Flanked by an ashtray and the dinner bell,
From the outside it was homely and forbidding,
Its spiny turrets always facing up.
But underneath it couldn’t be more different,
Fine-grained and shiny, like a china cup.
A marble staircase spiraled through the center,
Descending to a chamber lined with pearl.
But because the stairwell quickly got too narrow
Even for the fingers of a little girl,
Whatever lay inside stayed safely hidden,
Tucked in the darkness at the heart of it.
She shut her eyes and listened at the entrance,
Till she was almost small enough to fit.
-Catherine Tufariello (Porter County)
first published in The Dark Horse
Catherine Tufariello, a program director with the Center for Civic Reflection at Valparaiso University, lives in Valparaiso with her husband and daughter. Her collection Keeping My Name won the 2006 Poets’ Prize. “Conch” was first published in the journal The Dark Horse.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem from an Indiana poet every day in April (hand-selected by Indiana Poet Laureate George Kalamaras). Check in daily to see who is featured next!