The Wampum Shell


Wampum shells collected from the shores of Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks in North Carolina … days and days before Hurricane Joaquin came to visit on October 4th 2015. The background is a painting I finished before the storm began.

Just because there is a hurricane and it’s pelting down rain and the cat is freaking out and I’ve evacuated the first cottage … all of that is no reason to stop creating, especially as it’s possible the things I left behind may very well float away before midnight.

I sit in the first evacuation site in Kitty Hawk.  A blog post about Hurricane Joaquin TBD and if we do not lose power. Until then, enjoy a poem I wrote about wampum shells, my obsession for the last (almost) seven weeks.

The Wampum Shell©

  • Of crimson and violet, creamed colored rose
  • Such shells traded as currency
  • Shells used like gold
  • To the natives they said
  • Of this we oblige
  • But unfettered Europeans
  • Knew exactly not why
  • To know the mystery
  • One must find a Whelk shell
  • And learn of the Quahog,
  • The Clam, a hard shell
  • Then look deep into each
  • A shade that comes forth
  • Colors of the Atlantic
  • Beads from the north
  • Today we use green
  • No more red and blue
  • Our money is paper
  • No glorious, no hue
  • But know there is one
  • Who walks sand every day
  • Reaching for wampum
  • A time-honored way
  • With a bow to the past
  • A Native American kind
  • I give thanks to the ocean
  • In reverence, heart and mind

@RosemaryHook, Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks, North Carolina, Oct 4th 2015, 5:57pmEST

WordPress formatting is off.  Blame it all on Joaquin <sung to the tune of Friends In Low Places> but in a flooding storm you want friends in high places … on stilts!

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2 thoughts on “The Wampum Shell

  1. Oh Karen, thank you so much. I love Anne Lamott’s work and she was in fact, one of my inspirations to write with her Bird by Bird book. I’m so thankful to know you. When I am back in Austin and my head screwed on straight again, let’s so see some art together! ❤

  2. God, Rosemary, from our first meeting to now and beyond, you have marked me with some invisible spark. You continue to amaze me, your writing is beautiful, sort of anne lamottish, and your poetry exquisite. Survive this storm and keep loving those shells

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