laura jo swartley
 
mayfly at the burke natural history museum

You were a gift, 

lonely Paleoptera, 

a christ of your kind, anointed and kept

 

We look at you and repeat– Around 50 million years ago!

—our mouths mee-mawing on the other side

of the Lucite to be heard over the gap,

letting our tongues press harder on the ells of million

 

as if to rouse the rhythmus of your flight

as if to impress this into a resin in us

 

Is it a paradox, that we are stuck here? 

We see you moving on your pin

 

You were striped like your cousin, the bee

became

How these stripes catch us up on a ladder 

toward a word we learn from a board -

Chrono-strati-graphy

 

Did you end on a whir?

Laura Jo Swartley is a transplant from Indiana to the Pacific Northwest, where she works as an online instructional designer for the University of Washington. Three of the best years of her life were spent editing the liberal arts college literary magazine, Aurora, for St. Mary-of-the-Woods College. She has benefited from the generosity and generative gifts of poetry groups and poets stemming out of community created by The Richard Hugo House in Seattle – through which she has moved her writing from the hidden pages of various, disorganized journals into a public space. This is her first recent publication.

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