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PhotoPlay Prompt: Portrait of a Shell, Sand, and the Sea


Portrait of a shell, sand, and sea

Our senses are heightened by the surrounding wonder of the sea and shore. Take in the sound of every rolling wave. Inhale the salt air. Fix your eyes on a bit of sea glass. Feel the sand beneath your feet. It’s time for a little PhotoPlay and Prompt.

A special thanks to everyone who engaged in last week’s poetry prompt. Here’s a poem from Laura, full of riches:

the sea takes back the
stones I carry,  buffets
them into gleaming gems,
shining like glass beneath
light-faceted water.

I become the earthen shelf,
shifting against woolen
waves wrapping around me,
my body curving like a crescent
with each lapping pull

the night breaks open
like a piece of fruit, wet
and sweet on the tongue,
scent of brine under
milky moon

and the minstrel sea peels
back untold riches; sings in
me a new topography,
lifts away the heavy stones,
returns his hand to mine.

—by Laura Boggess

PhotoPlay Prompt: Take a picture showcasing the detail of a shell (or shells), sand, or sea glass. Try your hand at the macro setting on your camera.


NOTE TO POETS: Looking for your Monday poetry prompt? On Photo Play weeks, it’s right here. Find inspiration from the photo in the post and respond with a poem. Leave your poem in the comment box. We’ll be reading. :)

Photo by Alison Pavlos. Creative Commons license via Flickr. Post by Heather Eure.


Sometimes we feature your poems in Every Day Poems, with your permission of course. Thanks for writing with us!

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Your Comments

31 Comments so far

  1. Lovely musical lines in Laura’s poem of release.

  2. I did not have a photo of a beach with footprints! Can you believe it, living in Florida? So here is one I found


    A picture of a beach,
    with footprints
    of someone no longer there,
    but you were there, of course
    only you know this, you
    and the one who walked away,
    a stranger who caught your eye,
    who returned your stare
    and paused, waiting for you
    to smile or wave.

    In that moment, you felt the thin arc
    of the ocean’s ebb
    circling your feet, still and sinking,
    and you knew you could follow the stranger
    to a place unknown,
    but you stood and stared and wondered,
    as you do now, where only footprints
    remain, whenever dreaming brings you here.

    • Richard, this has a tone of haunting beauty, mystery and longing. Beautiful. Your poetry draws me in, everybtime. And I want to linger or run. Or pause or return. You fill your poetry with a myriad of emotion. Thank you.

  3. Coastal Sighting

    The fog lifts
    its back from

    the coal-gray
    sea. Long-finned

    pilot whales, flippers

    like a slice of moon,
    spyhop, lobtail, breach,

    an echolating chorus
    line, clicking, closing into

    a circle of preyers.

  4. i don’t live
    by the sea anymore – not
    even by a trickling stream. this
    undoes me every
    summer. my webbed
    feet dry out and i beg a
    trip to the mountain lake – there are no
    shells, only mowed weeds, bits
    of concrete steps, slimy with green. i
    step in duck
    poop and swim with a turtle to
    a floating dock. my son
    and i cannonball the day
    away. back
    on our towels, he
    spreads his stone loot
    out: shapes of horses, dragons. i chug
    lukewarm water
    from a mason jar, flick an ant
    off my toe, dream of cowboy
    hats made of ice.

  5. I used this photo paired with my poem from last week, one of my all time favorite that i have captured. “rose and shell”

  6. Particularity

    What does the sand remember
    of where it’s been? The sights
    it’s seen and sounds heard?

    It feels the pulsating waves
    of a thousand seas, the thrashing
    and gnashing warping its being.

    It knows what it cannot say
    of Solomon’s wisdom
    and inscrutable sagacity.

    It lives beyond the boundaries
    that set our lives, limit
    our vision, curtail our impulses.

    Sand has paid its price to be holy
    one in diversity, yet profoundly
    united in the ground of being.

  7. Marcy Terwilliger says:

    My rock collection is full and plenty,
    They came from States from coast to coast.
    The ones from Maui,
    I love the most.
    Black, round, with holes a plenty,
    Bought back in a bag, there were many.
    From a skull to another sliced into,
    Glass rocks all colors too.
    White and smooth to the touch,
    Others black and gray some with specks.
    All have stories from where they came,
    Walked wet sand beach shores,
    Left footprints of my soul.
    Shore to shore and state to state,
    Even the great Salt Lake.

  8. I love this part of Laura’s featured poem:

    “the night breaks open
    like a piece of fruit, wet
    and sweet on the tongue,
    scent of brine under
    milky moon”

  9. Marcy Terwilliger says:

    The Death of a Heart
    By; Marcy Terwilliger

    I am a broken seashell,
    Washed up from the floor of the ocean.
    I lie here bleeding on the cool,
    Wet, summer sand.
    There was a time when I was whole, Beautiful, shinny like moonbeams.
    Not anymore.
    My shell is broken,
    So many pieces, I can’t find them all.
    People, walk all over me, crush me,
    Even further as they step upon my frail heart.
    Look, can’t you see me?
    I still need you, my heart is broken,
    Can’t you feel my pain?
    Look what I’m going through,
    Hey, do you even care?
    Time, don’t talk to me about time.
    Right now I need something,
    For the pain.
    Parts of me are gone,
    Broken forever.
    Washed out to sea,
    That dark bottomless pit.
    I’m never going to get them back.
    They are gone forever.
    Washed away in the cool,
    Wetness of the sand.
    What I need?
    Someone to make me whole again.
    Is anyone there?
    All that’s left now,
    Is my heart, over there,
    Half buried in the cool, wet, sand.

  10. My offering, photograph and poem are here.

    Looking forward to slowly savoring all of yours.


  1. PhotoPlay 2: Portrait of a Shell, Sand, and the Sea Poetry Prompt | - July 21, 2014

    […] to everyone who participated in last week’s PhotoPlay Prompt: Portrait of a Shell, Sand, and the Sea. Here’s a poem by Elizabeth that had us dreaming of a walk on the […]

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