View Archives by:


Ode to A Fossilized Ammonite Shell Found at the Flea Market

Elizabeth 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.

Elizabeth Bradfield

Read Bio

Author Discusses Poems