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 (

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.