by Chloe Jacobs
In an alcove before the Rad Cam, there has been a shipwreck. Some small vessel has run aground on the cobblestones and left the debris of life behind, floating on thin waves of pure foam. Or, perhaps, these are the remains of an ancient civilisation. Great Pyramids have spilled onto English pavements, Atlantis waits to be claimed in the Oxford snow. I am no archaeologist, but I make a brief survey of the remains, excavating with my eyes as the wind teases the spoil.
A pair of shoes, outlined translucent in the frost, the navy-blue edge of a trainer tongue asserting itself against the white. The plastic spines of Tupperware, the flimsy fur of a skinned red-handled Tesco bag, the hollow skull of a latte. A long, olive-yellow mollusc lies petrified or fossilised on the steps, boneless but stiff with ice at the folds. I think, at first, that there is a person in its belly, lying completely shrouded in polyester blubber and weather-proof skin, but no. The creature lies too flat to be full, and I have seen its type before. Perhaps in a textbook. This is not the man-eating kind.
I leave the dig to a more practiced hand, walking on through the Spring-snow. I walk on, lips pressed against the inside of my jacket collar and pretend to forget the strange daffodils pushing up through the pavement.