Caroline Jennings — “The Chambered Nautilus: Revamped”

after Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

one day in the aquarium I ignored
the little tank of long-legged (tentacled?)
jellyfish and even passed the tank of sharks

with sticky little-kid fingers pressed up
to the thick glass and walked all the way to
you, you little architect, and I thought

of the way you left the second to the last
temple for a new home—ripe with potential—
creating such a perfect golden spiral,

and so I was jealous. maybe it’s unfair
to compare myself to a sea creature,
but nonetheless my low-vaulted past hangs far

over me, with last spring as an octopus
burrowing a hole into my fleshiest
parts. I found myself wringing my hands, begging

you for a lesson on building that neat wall
you know so well, the porcelain one that hides
the past, so imagine my dumbstruck surprise

when I leaned in just a tiny bit closer,
my sweat-coated forehead touching the bare glass,
and saw that your work, once pristine in my eyes,

was more like the way I sometimes
use soy milk instead of regular
in my cakes—best described as “almost,

but not quite.” in fact, I’m certain
you’re quite a disappointment to Ohm
and probably even Euler and Descartes

and Fermat and Pythagoras but most
importantly me, your legacy sitting in
my nightly thoughts, the ones that cling

to me as I lay alone on my bed, a stack
of old letters on the shelf mocking
me with their crookedness.

Caroline Jennings is a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics. She works at a clinical research organization, but finds time for poetry in an effort to learn more about life and all of the surprises that come with it. Her work has appeared in various issues of The Diamond Line as well as the second issue of Black Moon Magazine. Her chapbook, Stop and Smell the Fractals (and Everything In Between), features “Chambered Nautilus” and is soon to be published by Finishing Line Press in 2024.