Mary McColley

“This poem constitutes my trace fossil because it is a trace, a delineation, of my activity, but not my whole self and identity. As someone who has lived in America, France, Thailand, and Palestine, and traveled many more places, I have left behind me fractured footprints, scraps of laughter, & memories bright and chaotic as lights through rain on a windshield. I am not sure exactly where my whole fossil would or could rest. But my trace fossil— this poem was written on very long and lonely walks through the afternoon hours of Bangkok, towards the lizard-riddled Lumpini Park. I wanted to be something lasting and lovely, and only felt as ephemeral as "scraps of light," a quick passage of sandals over sidewalk. Perhaps here, my words might last a while longer than myself.”


Mary McColley is a writer and poet originally from Maine. She has wandered and worked for a number of years in France, Thailand, and Palestine. Her pastimes include killing lobsters and selling street art.

Why is this piece your Trace Fossil?

sweat & sun on my chest

sweat & sun on my chest

barren of heart, of child,

nothing but rib beneath the skin

I mouth the names of flowers

at dix-sept heures: sweet

oleander, sea teak, blue sage,

fukien tea, sword fern,

they are shadow-shook in a city

roaring, rash, and scraps of light

are winking individually at the

cusps & borders of the roads

spider lily, banyan tree,

I am so alone I have forgotten

which language ought to sit upon

my tongue, the flamboyant’s petals

dry blood-red on the ground

and it is the end of durian season, my

hair hangs a tumult of sweat and gold

and brown and grease on

the nape of my neck and

everything I see dissolves in water,

downing in two polluted skies

the ribs of the palm fronds are writ with

light, why not I?