History books, tumbled from the cliff’s high shelves,
fall open at textured illustrated plates patterned
with swirls, spirals, the fine-ribbed whorls of ammonites,
each fan and groove intricate, tactile — shells
that have lasted one hundred and fifty million years.
Pages of clay, laid down on a sea-bed — mudstone
studded with creatures that roamed our oceans:
ichthyosaurs, plesiosaurs, molluscs, fish —
a slender stem with its first two seed leaves,
a tiny bud at its tip, hopeful of growth
all open now to a new day, a new era,
their book pulled from the shelf, clay sucked dry
so that sun-scorched pages flake to rubble,
out of time, out of their element, waiting
to be carried back by tomorrow’s tide.
Barbara Hickson’s poems have appeared widely in magazines, anthologies and on-line journals and been placed and commended in competitions including Magma Editors’ Choice and the Plough Prize. In 2019 she had twelve poems published in a shared collection Rugged Rocks Running Rascals – poems for complicated times (DragonSpawn Press).