11:2: “Anvil-Mistress”, by Michele Bannister

11:2: “Anvil-Mistress”, by Michele Bannister


Folded planet, beaten back to beauty from so many shards,

as annealed as my heart, iron-centred, olivine-clad:

these are the rich remnants of your formation

a beach that weeps the jewel-green tears of peridot pebbles

Tangaroa’s adornment to his mother the Earth.

It is a strange thing, the mantled centre of a planet.

Lab-forged, in the smallest cell of a crushing prison

true transmutation: diamond in transmission, dialled above tradition

post-olivine to perovskite, peridotite beyond perfection.

The very iron of a soul may speak no more.

The great ice giants are beyond my diamonds.
In all my anvils, I can speak only to Rūaumoko’s heart,
he who holds
 the earthquake

but those worlds that shape the Solar System span far beyond his arc.

Give me a core of liquid diamond, let us sail in the mantle of methane seas

as though, strange squid, we could but slip beyond all talk of differentiation

and signal all our aspects on our skins, as clearly

as any pattern of flashing light and colour

as sharp as any skyforged never-rusting blade;

Be iron to my peridot, and we will be pallasite together:

you the mantle, I the core,

and mostly, throughout all that is written in the rocks

never knowing which is either.

Michele Bannister lives in Australia, where she is working towards her doctorate in astronomy. Her work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Cascadia Subduction Zone and Stone Telling, and is forthcoming in Jabberwocky. She says:

I was reading a paper on the experimental study of planetary interiors. The instrument used in this work is a diamond anvil cell: a compact, hydraulically powered pressure cell where the tips of the anvils are diamond.

2 Responses to “11:2: “Anvil-Mistress”, by Michele Bannister”

  1. Asakiyume says:

    This is truly gorgeous, a delight to read out loud for the sounds, the alliterations and the near rhymes, and the incantatory sound of mineral names.

  2. Elan says:

    Very beautiful- it caught me on the first line. Now I’m visualising alien squid propelling themselves through an ocean of liquid diamond, which is certainly worth a thank you.

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