Mary Anning discovers the plesiosaur, 1824

These objects you dig around seem
as normal to you as breathing –
snake-stones, devil’s fingers and verteberries.
They are everywhere in the limestone and shale
on the coast of Lyme Regis. You sell
curiosities, medicinal and mystical.

Then, one day, a storm reveals
something different.
And you step back.

This animal is breathtaking.

How did God imagine this monster?
A neck tall as a mast,
with arms and legs that could be oars.
A ship of a creature.

And who could have believed that
God’s days were so very long?

Mary, no one wanted to believe,
let alone have you enter the wood-panelled halls
trodden by men, and only men
while you held the remnants
of the Jurassic
between your pick and fingers.


Note: In 2010, Mary Anning was recognised by the Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge as one of the 10 most influential women scientists in British history.


Rosanna Licari

Rosanna Licari is an Australian writer and poet. She is the poetry editor of online literary journal StylusLit.

© 2018