The Simons House (part 3) by Margaret Ward McClain | Esse Diem
“On my way down the passage I am caught, as I always have been, mid-stride, captivated. A tall oak curio cabinet stands against the wall, honey-colored wood intricately carved, glass-front doors revealing shelves piled with a wonderment of shells. There is a collection of hundreds, some carefully labeled with a Latin name on a tiny strip of paper, others stacked to overlapping. Conch shells, purple striped urchins, varicolored mussel shells spread like wings. Some are familiar, like an entire shelf of pale lettered olives, the South Carolina state shell, sometimes found on the island by the sharp-eyed and lucky. Others are messengers from exotic shores: giant conchs with porcelain-smooth pink centers, a curving cream-and brown nautilus, and tiny wentels spiked and whorled. My mind is pulled past my horizon to another shore, where the life of these creatures begins, the thousands of watery miles of life and death between, the wave that carries them, the hand that carries them here.
I could spend hours here, gazing, but I move on.”