Kimmeridge Clay – Fiona Cartwright

Kimmeridge clay

After the winter storms, clay layers
on the beach, like slices
of my mother’s
coin-hiding cake, only one
containing treasure.
I prise them open.
The fifth reveals
………………………a scatter of seabed
no-one’s seen since the Jurassic.
A pyrite ammonite glows,
a small sun among crushed shells.
Spring’s first peacock butterfly
out of hibernation
……………across the beach.
I don’t move.
If I pull too hard
millions of years of existence
will fall to dirt between my hands.


Fiona Cartwright (Twitter @sciencegirl73) is a poet and conservation scientist. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, including Magma, Mslexia, Under the Radar, Interpreter’s House and Atrium. Her debut pamphlet, Whalelight, was published by Dempsey and Windle in 2019 (

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