Looking for Fossils in the Sulphur River
Hoarded now in a tea tin on my writing desk,
relics rattle when shaken, surviving memory’s
blank weather, fragments carelessly denoting
unbroken story lines scarcely extant in mind.
I crawled for hours in channels of deep time,
my sixth-grade mind focused on finger-sieving
the piebald gravel screening chunks of monster
Mesosaurs, sharks, and stony, wrinkled worms.
Their moment had passed, bones and teeth turned
to stone, gnashed and buried by water and time,
reappearing like textbook’s faulty memory
of an ancient king’s abdicated scepter and crown.
Still protruding from its piece of flinty gum,
a shark’s tooth rests in my palm; just longer
than the first two joints on my index finger,
it narrows to a point that could still wound.