Sea urchins for Sophie – Fiona Cartwright

Sea urchins for Sophie

I carry her exoskeletons
six hundred miles. She says
I don’t mind if they’re smashed
but she doesn’t mean it. I keep them
in a cardboard reliquary, drive them
………………………………………onto the ferry
which rocks them all night
on a rollercoaster sea.
The waves leave me bruised as I fall
against the shower’s plastic
but the urchins are unharmed.
………………………………………At Aberdeen
I haul them to dry land, carry them south
like babies cradled in car seats.
I bring them to her
still in their cardboard coffin,
spiny as our friendship.
……………………………………..When lockdown comes
she stands with her urchins
lined up like blown eggs
at her beached window
and looks out at an ocean of soil
from her museum of the sea.

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 (Fiona Cartwright).

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
skitters
……………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 (https://www.dempseyandwindle.com/fiona-cartwright-443431.html).

In flight – Fiona Cartwright

In flight

My dad pushes thumb and forefinger
into the sides of the cat’s jaws,

squeezes them open. Feathers fall.
Briefly, he admires the stealth of it;

the cat’s open-mouthed leap
into a constellation of swifts

that never earths
onto unbalanced feet –

one bird caught from all those
hurtling through the air like thrown stars –

then he opens the nest of his hands,
empties the bird into the dark

where its own gravity pulls it upwards.
My dad does not tell me

that he is a god to birds, their resurrector
until years later

and even then
he treats it as inconsequential.

 

Fiona Cartwright’s poetry has appeared in various places, including MslexiaEnvoi, Interpreter’s House and Under the Radar. She lives near London with her husband and daughters, and works as a ecological researcher.