One Cell At A Time: A Poetry Challenge

Centriole – 1st prize

Anna Bailey

Glass tank in a biology
classroom; I count the centipedes.
See? Hundreds of subtle, creeping things,

life’s sediment, seldom stirred. Quantification is
human nature; three celery-green eyes encircle the
wrist of a fairy tale witch. A trio of centaurs, lamenting

in triolet form. A census. I count centipedes in the biology
classroom; time scuttles past on many brown legs, hiding under
rocks and leaves. Would it take centuries to crack open the

earth, like a walnut or an almond? After all, we perform
so many modern miracles. Spin me a simulation of
gravity. Step into the blank white centre and

bring me emptiness, that stills the
compass needle. Let me hear
its vegetable snap.


First published in 2021.