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Lady Cave Anticline
by Emily Hinshelwood
Anticline – an arch or upfold in rocks,
generally produced by the bending upwards
of the beds under pressure from the sides.
It is as though he’s bowing to her
all the way from the harbour
head down, eyes lowered.
Every pace along the beach
he bends, reaches to a shell
smells its scent, but casts it off
as if it’s not divine enough.
She is still young – relatively;
though pressured on all sides,
forced to bend and arch (her bed
exposed so we all see how
deformed she is). Those
that lay on her have gone, and she
is stiff as whalebone.
He moves in silent homage till
he picks a yellow cone shell, still
glistening (freshly flushed). Sniffs it,
tongue flicks to taste its ridges. Salty.
Feels with clumsy fingers the tiny
aperture, the shiny liplike columella, and
strides to Lady Cave Anticline.
She has never had such a visitor. All
others have gawped at her broken back
(even marvelled), tossed theories like a ball
measured, scraped, talked about her.
But he touched her, gently, rubbed
a small hole into her tight and stressed folds.
Made such exquisite feathered strokes, it felt
as though the weight of millennia
eased. He pushed the yellow shell
in, slightly hidden, whispered
something that couldn’t be heard.
Then strode towards the headland
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