Three Science Poems by Emily Jaeger

"Lichen", "Marjorie Courtnay-Latimer Discovers the Coelacanth Fish" and "The Liberal Bubble"


The first guest after
the avalanche.

Part decay, part pond
plant—familiar with still,

growing your green glue
at a rate of centimeters per century—

but enough. Chartreuse pecking
rocks into dirt, dirt

into rocks again: you
green letter, you tuft of sun, collapsed

telescope, you tumbleweed,
mole, puckered wormhole,

your only job is to hold
the ground in place.

Marjorie Courtnay-Latimer Discovers the Coelacanth Fish

You say living fossil means that I am not
the fish but the print of the fish left
in the sand. A solidified departure.
Why is your first instinct to cut
me open? My skin underneath the microscope
is a river of teeth. My spine a dead language.

Unstitched throat to fin, what does my autopsy
reveal? The examined life begins
with your violence, my unpeeled
eye catching a hasty note: the body
is a mirror of a fish, of a fish, of a fish.

My mouth too broken to tell you—now
just a fossil again. When she found me
in the market haul, it was Christmas day.
The embalmer wasn’t home. She ran the streets,
a gasping fish swaddled in her arms.

The Liberal Bubble

The ants in the garden won’t let me join
in on their feast of pea leaves, their perfect
dance along a smear of bug sex
from leaf to home, where they spit
up underground a grey pea mash,
and mold orbs of winter grub, six spindly legs
pirouetting in unison. I pour buckets
of dish water and laundry soap
down their hidey-hole. Take that
for not taking me. At night, I chew
through all my books and vomit
an orb so big I can step inside.
In the yard, the Milky Way is bright
enough to scare me, a white scar in the sky,
as I roll in my ball of old chewed up
words, passing cherimoyas unpicked
and dripping like wet canaries,
the motorcyclists who call out
aye mamacita to my curves,
and the fuzzy voices of dinner talk or
pillow talk falling from stucco cottages.
When the wind is right, I twist
north, plugging all the holes
with my own hands my own teeth,
until I’m carried away, leaving
behind a well-swept road.


Two Poems by Olivia Olson

muscles / remember even in sleep / what they repeat / in daylight, over and over/ and over