Elinor Ann Walker

September 22, 2023 Walker Elinor Ann

Nautilus: An Ode
“Wrecked is the ship of pearl!”– Oliver Wendell Holmes



I fantasize about inhabiting a nautilus, how each chamber
is bigger than the last, how the shell, when seawater
leaves a chamber, achieves


how I could put down barriers like the creature,
how unoccupied spaces could grow, or how, in buoyant
separate rooms, we could find ourselves again


but we were so dissimilar in our turning, spiraling
away, so I have left you behind, wall by wall.
(No need to go back to our spira mirabilis.)
At great depths,


the shell implodes: I’m not going any deeper.
Inside now I, too, am nacre, mother
of pearl. Even if I crack, I isolate the fissure.
That’s how I could outgrow a shell, crawl its corridors,


feel my way through the smooth walls until suddenly—


(I am defenseless, but I am no longer inhabiting dread.)

Elinor Ann Walker’s poetry, flash fiction, and creative non-fiction are featured or forthcoming in Cherry TreeFeral, Gone Lawn, Nimrod International JournalNorthwest Review, Pidgeonholes, RubyThe Southern ReviewWhale Road Review, and elsewhere. A Best Microfiction and Best of the Net nominee, she holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and prefers to write outside. Find her online at https://elinorannwalker.com and on Twitter @elinorann_poet.