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Like a Snail I'll Taste the World an Inch at a Time, a Poem by Anne Marie Wells*

Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny

A ribcage

After Athena Liu

I'm nearing the second cairn, the first long gone


that first summer I learned how cruelty can live by


second name. Years speed by while days curl up like a


spiraling in a golden ratio. Someday


furl my leaves, fern-like reminiscing about the


of moss that catches in the back of my throat, of


lichen-covered tree trunks downed by the wind and the


the heaviness of it all. But today I'm at


intersection—one beacon left, one right—and I


forward, not yet wanting to choose, keeping both rocks


periphery's edge. Like Sylvia's figs, I want


quiet life and a wild one all at the same


A ribcage is a poetic form invented by poet Athena Liu consisting of 12 alternating, 12-syllable lines and a monosyllabic word in brackets. At the end of the text, the bracketed words — or spine — are read from top to bottom.


*Third runner-up: 2023 Valiant Scribe Poetry Competition.

Anne Marie Wells is an award-winning Queer poet, playwright and memoirist navigating the world with a chronic illness. She is the author of Survived By (Curious Corvid Publishing), the inaugural winner of the Wanderlust Travel Book Award for her memoir, Happy Iceland, and the 2023 winner of the Cinnamon Press Chapbook Contest for her collection, Mother, (v). She won the 2023 Maryland Writers Association Poetry Contest, the 2023 Jackson Hole Poetry Box Contest, 2023 DC Public Library Haiku Contest, was long-listed for the International Erbacce Prize in Poetry, and was short-listed for the inaugural Emma Howell Rising Poet Award.


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