Echoes

by Hugh Anderson
Desert Moon Review
First Place, March 2016
Judged by Lee Slonimsky


A shell to the ear echoes the pulse of blood;
the roll and crash and constant wind of surf
crack on rocks, hiss like a nest of snakes
on pebbles. Metaphor is a lie. Story,
we build on sand. This foundation
of myth, of self, of gods and demons
is a moon snail’s labyrinthine coil; its
vacant mouth is poetry. Eyes open
and the sand has shifted, eyes open and
the snail crawls its blanket foot over prey
and drills, extends its tongue. Eyes open
and the shell is filled with ocean, pulse
pounds against rocks, myth collapses,
echoes ripple across the empty sand.


“Echoes” is a poem about the primordial, one in which the poet’s great ear for sound conveys the relationship between the ocean and our blood, the roll of surf on rocks and the hiss of snakes. And it relates the voice of poetry to all the ancient history conveyed by a snail. The fine and precise description of the second half of the poem reminds a reader of William Carlos Williams’ famed contention “No ideas but in things”. “Echoes” indeed manages to find the history of the ocean and of poetry in a snail crawling at the shore! --Lee Slonimsky

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