Ann de Forest
AMMONITES

mountains once were ocean  evidence coils beneath

our feet  prehistoric curlicues  not yet nautilus  not yet

snail  not yet calcified turban washed up on the beach

………………………void of any tender

……………………………….creature

barely old enough to remember  tasmanian devil’s cyclone

wake  cartoon cat’s stiff armed stumbles  vertiginous eyes

hypnotize  pulsing black & white  watch dangles

………………………sways  eyelids

………………………………fall

…………………………………………………………………..where does time begin?

crack the case  find the spring  sister crouched beneath

a crib  a finger flick sends silver spiral shimmying up

spinning down  mesmerized by tiny revolutions

mesmerized by bounce and drop

………………………by boing

…………………………..and hum

………………………………………………………………………danger up ahead

rattler on the trail  vortex in the toilet bowl  fingers

furled to pack a punch  lobster thrashing in a pot  fallen

leaf and flame-licked letter  go in green  come out red  tail

………………………rolled up between

………………………………your legs

tentacles sweep across the map  tempest whirls  turns

one blind eye  twists wind and water  flattening palms pounding

the panhandle  whitening the gulf  your thumbs

………………………too cold to leave

………………………       any imprint

………………………………………………………………………curl up & die

old woman tends her labyrinth  plants boxwood seedlings

ankle high  a lifetime pulling weeds curves her spine

………………………downward

…………………………….eyes drop

fiddlehead unfurls to fern  colors swirl across the page

to seal a book  adorn a spine  ossify as marble  boxwood grows

high  grows round  the generation’s last survivor

walks her labyrinth  sprigs fill to hedge  path

………………………vanishes

…………………………….as maze

………………………………………………………………………so easy to lose your way

split the pod  find the bean

split the bean  find the finest curling

tendril waiting for instructions to unwind

our own little bean a blip on a screen

………………………nestling in

……………………………a hurricane

………………………………………………………………………look down

the rosy sidewalk slabs dotted

with fossils  spinning right under

………………………our eyes

…………..       ………….ammonites

………………………………………………………………………look up

obscured by light  expanding

overhead  nebulae  no need

………………………for any

……………………………witness


Ann de Forest’s work often centers on the resonance of place. Her short stories, essays, and poetry have appeared in Coal Hill Review, Unbroken, Noctua Review, Cleaver Magazine, Found Poetry Review, The Journal, Hotel Amerika, Timber Creek Review, Open City, and PIF, and in Hidden City Philadelphia, where she is a contributing writer. She is currently editing an anthology of essays about walking, Slow Going, to be published by New Door Books in 2021, a project inspired by having twice walked the entire perimeter of Philadelphia, the city she’s called home for three decades.

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