Ode to A Fossilized Ammonite Shell Found at the Flea MarketElizabeth Bradfield
It's on the desk at home, on top of an old book of shorthand, that disguised and rushing language almost no one now remembers. It lingered in the earth for ages. I didn't want it until she lifted one half —I didn't know they were halves— in each hand. Two parts cleft. Uneven. Chipped, she said, from a hill. Special she said. Shell. And I can see how, in falling apart, in being opened, they became more whole. More wholly what they were before earth claimed them. The black rock opening to a cast ridged whorl, shell-spiral, the shell long gone. Its pearled curve, its tender meat, its tint, its salt pressed out. Only the breaking to reveal how its small shape patterned silt, then rock. Only time. And now to see what lasted. Hold its weight. Only memory. As home is far and I'm trying to avoid losing detail to time's press: your scent fading like flowers paling in a heavy book.
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