Her Only Portrait

poetry 0
Magpie Miller


—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.

Magpie Miller’s poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly ReviewThe Southern Poetry ReviewThe Cream City Review, Clade Song, and other journals. A native of east Tennessee, Miller writes about the lives of women as scientists, farmers, and makers. Currently, she divides her time between Lexington, KY, and a nascent pear orchard in east Tennessee.