—for Mary Anning (1799-1847)
See the fossilist
whose slender finger gives direction
to our gaze. Note the dog
who guarded Anning’s finds for hours
while his mistress sought
tools or others’ aid. In this, the only
likeness made from life,
the grave face she makes conceals the wit
who wrote wry birthday
poems to friends and took true measure
of small men who tried
a flimsy length to span her wily mind.
Eclipsed from partnership
by those who published what she dug,
she gestures here to right
the tales that what she got, she got alone.
In her only portrait,
she points to her dog.