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Mary Anning, pioneer fossil collector of Lyme Regis, Dorset. Oil painting by an unknown artist, before 1842. Golden Cap is visible in the background. Held at the Natural History Museum, London.
Mary Anning – Fossil Hunter

 

They say that first bolt made you brighter, a crack

of the sky to whip you into shape, a flash

to bring you to life, like the bride of Frankenstein.

 

It couldn’t have been intuition or a searching mind,

but the will of God that made a woman work.

You brushed the charge aside, tore up the ground

 

with hammer and chisel, petticoat pulled up,

dug your feet wide in the Lyme Regis dirt

to find more than you came for. Mary, holiest

 

by name, whose hands excavated the earth

we saunter on, who showed us the very nature

of our fossilisation, who lightning never struck.

 

 

© Russell Jones

Picture 10703895, unattributed portrait, 19th century,  image copyright Mary Evans / Natural History Museum

 

 

Russell Jones is a writer and editor based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He has published six poetry collections and edited three anthologies. He was the UK’s first Pet Poet Laureate and has a PhD in Creative Writing. http://writerrusselljones.blogspot.com/

 

 

Mary Anning (1799–1847) was an English fossil collector and palaeontologist. Her discoveries were some of the most significant geological finds of all time, providing evidence that was central to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth. Her genius was said to have come from being struck by lightning as a child.