My niece, who is three
is twirling in a sparkly dress, her favorite, a Hello Kitty gown.
She moves, jerking, across a brown expanse of kitchen.
I think she is probably the same age as your daughter,
though it has been many years since I have seen you
and I do not know for sure.
She is blonde and holds a book about how dinosaurs clean their rooms.
Later, I will read it to her on the sofa while she squirms—
a little child in a large bed
a new and smooth, warm little body,
curling with innocence, with expectation, with heat,
tucked safely beneath her big girl sheets and blankets.
On campus, there was a bright atrium,
green windows, walls like white columns.
At the pale, high, center, a skeleton, the preserved body of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
I remember how the predator’s hull hung shuddering from the ceiling
taking up all the air and light,
a dead thing, still powerful, at the center of the room.
I used to visit that tall body
though I was not a student in the science department
and the hall was a long walk from the converted church where I studied dance.
The ancient skeleton held a memory of a memory,
the bloody taste my own evolution has buried,
of a time
before man and daylight mammals,
mud-colored and inventive.
What it was: a vast arc of raw hunger, a high neck formed of predatory leg and bone.
At school, I’d studied you also.
The winding pattern of the cream you swirled into your coffee.
The dirty leaf smell of your late-night breath.
A scientist might have told how electrons spilled from the tips of your fingers,
how it was particles of you that made the charge across my skin.
Then there were soft-aired afternoons when I slipped across the campus,
the smell of wet grass, high blades sharp against my ankles.
The hum of the creek, the damp stretch of the afternoon pavement,
on those rainy afternoons when I went hunting dinosaur bones.
Review by Andrea Jackson
Very nice conflation of fossil dinosaur with former beloved (fossil romance).