Shimerings of pearl; a poem finds its painting

A while ago I wrote a poem about a beautiful empty shell. It was a meditation on memory, on fullness and emptiness, but I was also trying to catch the light in the shell itself, or catch a gleam of it in the mirror of my words. Then just the other day I came upon this brilliant painting by Anna Todd, she catches just thel ‘opalescent shimmering of pearl’ I was trying to descrbe.  She has given me permission to post her painting here alongside my poem. check out her amazing site through the link on her name.

shell with marbles Anna Todd


I am alone, my fingers touch this shell
Of memory. I trace a graceful swirl
Of green and blue, like ripples on the swell,
Catching the light before they lapse and spill
And spend themselves on sand in soft caresses.
And I remember slowly savoured kisses,
Like moving in slow motion through deep water
That clarifies and washes us with light,
A light that burnishes this empty shell
With opalescent shimmerings of pearl.


Filed under imagination, literature, Poems

4 responses to “Shimerings of pearl; a poem finds its painting

  1. The picture is perfect!

    Your image of Memory is so hopeful, unstained and simple- an elusive thing in this real world. Still, pure as it is it remains coupled with longing, with that absence that underlies such a full presence in memory. Fullness and emptiness are met in what feels like timelessness, so apt where memory is the theme.

    In the relationship between ‘eternal moment’ and physical memory, aloneness and togetherness, it also reminds me of Keats’ ‘Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art’… Yet so different, in that it looks like constant sleep instead of endless waking. Almost every word accumulates in drenching ‘murmur’!

    It seems unreal in pictures’ satisfaction of lonesome emptiness, but again this is met by the reality of relationship- simple, good- that comes through. These layers all harmonise neatly and beautifully.

    • malcolmguite

      Thanks annelise it’s really good to get detailed responses like this. I’m sorry not ton have replied to your email yet. But I have thought and prayed about it a good deal

  2. M’m, thank you so much for that. Whenever you have time and thoughts would be fine!

    I still haven’t any answer, but have also been thinking and praying much about it. Learning a lot, particularly in that God’s true Story and Person have been opened to me anew in such simplicity and awesomeness, by both new necessity and desire of real trust.

    It’s just really something to recognise the things that ‘cannot be shaken and remain’, even while in my frailty of knowledge other things shift and move around it. Such a gift we have……

  3. such a wonderful pearl. No wonder you created a poem as wonderful as the pearl itself.

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