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Painting "Black Pearl" by Natalia Koreshkova

Pearls are so beautiful.

It’s easy to see why they’ve been treasured and coveted through generations of human history. Their translucent delicacy – their moon-shine quality – make them alluring and somehow, almost magical.

Pearls are the end result of pain and irritation and a lot of messy, unappealing, hard work. They’re formed when an alien substance gets between an oyster’s shell and the soft, sensitive flesh beneath. In order to stop the stone (or whatever it is) damaging it more, the oyster busies itself with covering the irritant, layer upon layer, with a substance that hardens over time and forms a pearl.

The metaphor is obvious, I think, however far you want to take it. I often feel like an oyster – soft and vulnerable under my protective shells. I often feel as though, however much I try to make myself safe in those shells, things get in from outside – unwelcome things that hurt, or niggle, or make me feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, they’re well-intended things, born of love and kindness. Sometimes, they’re things designed to damage me. Either way, once they’re in, under my shell, it’s up to me to work with them, until they become something precious and beautiful and good.


Oyster I am.

Oyster with grit under soft skin,

telling stories in layers

and living within

their mesmerizing shells…

Oyster I am,

rolling around

the frowns and jibes,

the snide disapprovals

and hypocritical concerns

that wriggle into spaces

between heart and soul and mind

- that invade my quiet places

and see what they can find

to itch.

Oyster I am,

soft under lamina, deep-water rich,

my spirit unfurls…

Oyster I am,

rolling the grit in dazzling dreams

and making it pearls.

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