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“This Thing Of Ours” by Julia Shipley

25 September 2015 on Poetry   Tags:


Shark teeth, petrified wood, lump of crystalline.
And so?
Teeth of shark “killed off coast of Labrador.” Oh.
Petrified wood from “the petrified forest where huge trees…
lie just as they were buried years ago
by the lava of St. Helena which turned them to stone so neatly
that the variety of wood may still be distinguished.”
The lump? From “the forest of Fontainebleau.”

For 50 years Simpson Library’s absentee show and tell
has featured personal effects of Mrs. Finn, Mrs. Lucian Day,
Mrs. Frederick Slicer, and now all that’s known of Mr. Estelle
are his shells from Galilee. But the trophy is “Stalactite
from Endless Caverns” which you can picture:
childless Miss Simpson swaddling in her blouse,
tucking in the sanctum of her trunk
to deliver us this mineral tusk, her petrified tear,
you could place it in the palm of someone who refused
to conceive an ordinary grief and say, Here.

Girl of 2075 gazing at these items set aside
with you in mind, will the petrified ripples
combed in mudstone remind you of “lovely flowing hair?”

Julia Shipley is the author of The Academy of Hay, winner of the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize, forthcoming in 2015. Her first prose book Adam's Mark, was supported by a Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant and named a 2014 Best Book About New England by The Boston Globe. Her work has recently appeared in Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Green Mountains Review, North American Review, Poetry and The Rumpus.

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