Liam Strong, “asking my father why he collects broken conch shells”

Liam Strong is a transgender nonbinary writer and the editor in chief of NMC Magazine, Northwestern Michigan College’s creative arts magazine. They work on the editorial board of Random Sample Review and currently work as an English tutor and teaching assistant. You can find their works in Impossible Archetype, Dunes Review, Monday Night, and 3288 Review.

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asking my father why he collects

broken conch shells

it’s why you only pinch morels;
you never yank them like ingrown hairs.

spiders and ants may cloister within
but isn’t that another kind of sheltering?

the apse of shells can hold spines
of families who aren’t family.

snails are persnickety. they loan homes
like tents for weddings. the domicile

of flesh harbors a marriage between
the clinging of survival to a hearth

made in our own image. we take
what we can without kintsugi.

that is a last resort. imagine the cave
of your hand to your ear. in its absence

a furrow of whispers. so why not the conch,
who sings as if from a far place, so far

the translation is broken, not lost.
you cannot break a place.





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