Folded Field Notes: IMPRINT

Folded Field Notes is an interactive column that explores a new ecological topic each fortnight – part writing challenge, part citizen science project – led by alternating guides with assistance from editor & ecologist JS Graustein. Will you join us?

As a verb, imprint consists of instinctual actions: the moment a drakeling hatches and latches onto mother, or the pressure a kindergartner applies with her wide-open hand into wave-licked sand. As a noun, imprint’s reach extends from the ephemeral (fox prints in snow) to the millennial (finger marks in Chauvet cave) to the geologic (fossilized outlines of Archæopteryx feathers). Whether verb or noun, temporary or permanent, genetic or environmental, imprint involves modes of communication among & between species across some measurement of time.

portrait of Barbara FlahertyBarbara Flaherty is an artist and poet who lives on the north shore of Boston with two feline critics, Sylvester and Tashi. She works in the historic Manchester by the Sea Public Library. Barbara previously served as Folded’s acquisitions editor and has sponsored public readings for Folded authors.

Stepping over the threshold into October, there is a new dimension here to time and color. Summer’s memory still lingers, however less and less; the light’s balance and energy put different imprints on the measurements of sunrise and twilight



Notice the air sigh, finding its
way into cracks between driftwood and sand,
journey from sea to earth.

Listen to the stars hum as dusk
turns to an earlier dark, allowing their presence
to dance into view.

Watch the spider web’s fragile rhythm
an ecosystem with life
evolving once again, again.

©2018 by Barbara Flaherty

Your turn! In the comments section below, please let us know if you’ve observed any kind of transition recently — including general location and time of day. We’ll leave the comments open for the next two weeks in case you need a chance to go on a field trip first😊 And if your encounter inspires you to write a response (short poem, flash fiction, or mini essay), please come back and share that as well. In November, we’ll post a community poem based on all your observations. We’ll also select one of the response pieces to publish in our Written Word Wednesday column (revisions may be requested).

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4 Comments on “Folded Field Notes: IMPRINT

  1. Day’s end comes as a covering quilt,
    a turn of head and you miss the sun’s stealaway.
    Cold moves down, and toes mince to scurry in
    with leaves circling your temples in a crown,
    the gusts pulling your shoulders in, arms about you
    in a grudging embrace of compliance,
    forgetting summer
    forgiving fall.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Fossils

    Out the back road of Charlestown, down a steep hill, across a disused railway, around a rough-brambled coastline and under the line of high tide: layers of grey mudstone, semi-eroded, open to the touch and tell their story.

    Some layers say little; others retain ambiguous marks of roots or twigs; others teem with imprints: crowding, curling wormlife, centre-spined like eels; thick, bulbous root-clumps and once a circular blobbishness, symmetried like a horseshoe crab.

    If I read correctly, this place was a saltmarsh, lower to the sea when ice pressed down the land, but periodically writhing with life. Today the silting shore still teems with life–mussels and black seaweed, printing future pages in zigzags and ovals.


  3. Pingback: Fossils – Folded Word

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