Poem-Mary Oliver-The Hermit Crab

The Hermit Crab

Mary Oliver

Once I looked inside
the darkness
……of a shell folded like a pastry
………and there was a fancy face—

or almost a face—
it turned away
……and frisked up its brawny forearms
………so quickly

against the light
and my looking in
……I scarcely had time to see it,
………gleaming

under the pure white roof
of old calcium
……When I set it down, it hurried
………along the tideline

of the sea,
which was slashing along as usual,
……shouting and hissing
………toward the future,

turning its back
with every tide on the past,
……leaving the shore littered
………every morning

with more ornaments of death—
what a pearly rubble
……from which to choose a house
………like a white flower—

and what a rebellion
to leap into it
……and hold on,
………connecting everything,

the past to the future—
which is of course the miracle—
……which is the only argument there is
………against the sea

From House of Light by Mary Oliver

For another perspective on the sea and death and life, see what naturalist Loren Eiseley has to say in :

The Star Thrower

And for your viewing delight, here are some more remarkable hermit crab images from my good friend and photojournalist Jan Messersmith.  Be sure to visit his journal on “life in paradise” in Madang, Papua, New Guinea.  You’ll find some of the best underwater and reef photography on the internet:

Madang – Ples Bilong Mi

♥♥♥

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About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

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  1. Mary Oliver | The Hermit Crab | Backpacking with a Book - 2011/11/08

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