Eumaeus Questions the Fossils

Water working us gently warmly
away into the womb of Earth once more,
alone in the sea under the heave and tremor
of the geography of waves and swells,
alone with the shale-black orthocone,
alone with mosasaur, alone in the panic of its prey

Or pike, above the disparate translucencies
of a lake a mile above the pillow of set lava balanced,
precarious above the igneous flow –
a knapped Folsom point, obscurant obsidian lens
through which to consider:

A scorpion after all
is company no more or less tender or “nice,” you say,
than any company save what your young soul endows
than it had enjoyed by way of its primordial nature

never noticed
before your blossoming moment of grace – or
hadrosaur’s jaws oscillating back and forth,
so finely evolved

out of the dim birdiness of her ancestors –
back and forth in contemplative slowness
while the shadows of the shadows of poems,
undulate in the skull that sweeps slowly –
up and down,
back and forth from sedge to sky.

Dead to our childhood, we can no longer begin
or pretend to hear the trees –
we can no longer reach the first branch to begin again.

Do you remember the clarity
high enough and in such danger of height and invention
when we embraced the tree for our only protection,
the good ache in the infinity
of our child’s upward scramble maybe
way up a Cretaceous plane tree
in the farthest clearest distance –

see hear feel the hungry warmth of the consuming sun,
the chill of the twilit lorn horizon,
and then then then the sun.

The tree whispered back its name.
Unremembering, we listened.

We slaughter the flying creatures though we envy them,
descendants of the fourth freedom of evolution
The lesser endowed among the evolved,
below the sky, only subsisting again, scavengers –
we will not fly!

And the fifth freedom?
the inspired human agon between a nomadic psyche
and the impenetrable orthodox – the genius!

But not now, not this year or era.
Far below the cave the dug tomb
the undertomb of anxiety,
the rising fire, the silence of echo
the sound of caves that we may stand above . . .
and recall that extinction is no disgrace.

The end is quick, sepulchered
into the slow evolution of memorial agate.

We may grow beautiful and virtuous again
refined together in the same lithic kiln.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Sederstrom is the author of seven books of poetry, his newest book, Icarus Rising, Misadventures in Ascension, published by Jackpine Writers' Bloc, was released last winter. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.