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The Ocean Under Kansas



The ocean under Kansas is no longer wet.

The ancient seaway receded millennia ago

as the continent lifted, taking water away

from life whose only world was water.

Nowadays it’s all prairie and wheat fields

rippling like waves across rolling hills.


Dig beneath the earth and you’ll find

beached remnants of the sea. Shells and coral bones,

fish skeletons, shark teeth. Mounds of teeth

churned up by mechanical plows

that range the land, devouring grasses.


The sea lies fossilized, embedded in the crust.

Living things walk over it each day and never mind

what’s swimming underneath their feet.


But the earth has memories stronger than tides,

and if you lay your head upon the rock at night

you may dive into a swell of emerald fronds

and drift, illuminated,

among forms you’ve seen

on ancient maps, sea monsters

marking boundaries of the known world.

Amanda Hiland is a queer writer who grew up hiking through the forests of Oregon. A Special Education teacher by day, she is also a major astronomy enthusiast at night. She spends her free time folding origami, traveling, and advocating for underserved communities. Her work has appeared most recently in VoiceCatcher, Epiphany, Willawaw Journal, and Cathexis.

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