The Song of the Conch Shell

Fiction by Darcie L. Riggle

In this place you can find conch shells as big as mangoes. In this memory the conch shell tells me a story. 

The tears I swore I would never shed again well up as I am drawn in by the muse. The story she whispers comes from the depths, centuries of wisdom from the four corners of the world, now it dwells in the chambers of this conch shell. Her song of numerous sands and vast seas unlocks the heart and soul. She tells me how it came to be, the conch rolled in on a tide lured by the moon. It is a moon-drawn tide just like that which carries me back to this place, a place only the blind come to see, by listening to the song of the conch. 

The song tells of a shine that sparks in the world beneath. I see the glint of a treasure, one priceless and true with a reddish-gold hue. In this place, the waters may be from the shallow gulf, but the tears that well up in my heart come from greater depths. The glint I see comes from a spark that spoke of Bon-son-gi, new fire in Navajo, which runs in the veins of the earth and comes from the originator, God. I see the signet ring of our grandfather—or is it the shimmer of a golden key that unlocks this memory? I see myself being caught in a rain of birdseed. As I look to the ground the seeds bounce and roll into the cracks of the concrete. The vision comes alive, and moments later a flower sprouts up and unfolds—reaching and spiraling ever upward, in the very place where we took the first steps of our journey.

My tears rain onto the heart as heaven upon a mountaintop, and it flows from my heart to this pen. The words bubble up as from a volcanic vent. I am left blinded, and can only stare until the great trembling has ceased. It is a trembling like a seismic jolt, as a hawk flies peacefully overhead. The hawk pulls me into flight, into a dream. The hawk sits opposite a Shaman with a bonfire between them. He says the Shaman speaks a language he does not know. “Teyiwa, Koiwa.” The Shaman picks up hot ash from the fire and blows it into his face. When he closes his eyes and opens them he is no longer in his body. He is flying above himself. He is the hawk, has become the hawk, or I have. It is dark and silent. As he looks down he can see himself and the Shaman sitting on the mountain. He is the hawk flying in the distant sky, and his spirit soars free.

My soul longs to soar with you, but I cannot become this vision. I fall back to the ocean. I become a flying fish skipping from one wave to the next. I am not allowed to take flight. I sink under the surface to find meaning in the place where I am blinded by the light of all treasures. I am ever adrift, like in the stories of unplotted ghost ships on the many seas of this world, with a seemingly empty hull and a fractured, carved figurehead on the prow. The tattered sails are flown with the breath of God, and this vessel rides on indigo oceans, just as my quill bleeds.