OXIDANT | ENGINE : Issue 5
Shannon K. Winston
For Anna Atkins, Botanist and the First Female Photographer
Slippery, wet algae dangle like pearls
Uprooted like unclasped necklaces
from the sea white imprints on salt paper.
A slow emerging of negative & positive
of absences & presences skeletal forms aglow.
Fucus nodosus, Furcellaria fastigiata—
strange syllables surface
on my tongue brilliant, biting, scaly—
In darkness, phosphorescence, too, congeals in
my hands: how they burn with star-like constellations,
ferric ammonium, and the finest lines.
Some people peer into the sky, I sink down into waves
for the smallest sketches of the infinite.
It all hinges on patience— Let’s peel back the
shadows. Let’s let light through separations of leaf and vein,
Let’s expose the inner workings of bone, body, muscle
of chemistry to uncover how little
of ourselves we truly know.
Let’s turn the whole world blue— Let it all burst forth
and expose even our breath: swelling, hurried, snagging on
small, almost unnoticeable things.
Shannon K. Winston's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Pretty Owl Poetry, Whale Road Review, A-Minor, Crab Orchard Review, Zone 3, among others. Her first poetry collection, Threads Give Way (Cold Press), was published in 2010. She earned her MFA at Warren Wilson College and her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She teaches in Princeton University’s Writing Program.