poetry and prose about place

a conch shell doorstop

with one comment

Do you have a conch shell for a doorstop in your home?

If you visit a farm or home museum in the Maritime Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Prince Edward Island), look down as you enter the house.  You will often see a large sea shell used as a doorstop.  These are usually a conch-type shell (the Queen Conch is a large Caribbean sea-snail).  The shells were usually brought to maritime doorways by seafarers who collected them on their travels. 

My grandfather’s house had one of these shells, a large white conch with a pearly pink interior and whorls of spines.  Always on duty at the door of the glassed-in porch, it was an imported marvel of the exotic seas. 

I remember my Dad holding it to my ear, saying, “listen”.  From deep within the shell came the steady hum of the ocean, like the sound of waves advancing and pulling back from the shore.

This shell was part of my Dad’s life, growing up in the big farmhouse.  As an adult, Dad gradually built his own collection of sea shells, large and small, usually buying them at auctions.  A couple of the large shells are now in my own home.  When I am far from the ocean, I can still lift one of those shells to my ear and hear its eternal roar.     





kitchen door kept

open with a conch shell



spines cropped

by incoming and outgoing

careless cousins



complaining ocean

captured roar



© Jane Tims 2011

Copyright Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

December 18, 2011 at 7:00 am

One Response

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  1. Oh the memories you’ve stirred up… My grandparents had a large conch shell for a doorstop, too. Grandmother’s father was a sea captain as were many of her Cape Cod ancestors. I well remember that sense of wonder and surprise when told that I could hear the sea if I held the shell to my ear.


    Barbara Rodgers

    December 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm

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