Paleontology Lesson



On Easter Sunday, with a sense of irony,

I took you hunting for fossils,

with a garden trowel, your red beach bucket,

and what my father would a called a “riddle”.

When we stopped to dig you asked how I knew

it was the right place, I told you to trust me.

I dug a hole into the past, you filled it with sea water,

swirling the Jurassic mud with your fingers,

dredging the hole with the bucket and sifting

sludge through the riddle like a couple of sourdoughs.


Ramblers circumnavigated us, but one stopped

to ask what we were doing, you told him,

and he looked at you as if you were mad,

and me as if I should have more sense,

and smiled politely and rambled on.

When we found our first one you held it

aloft, like a nugget of grey gold,

arms black to the elbows with lias clay,

a Gryphaea, the Devil’s toenail, seeing

the light, the first in 200 million years.


Stones speak to us without saying a word,

fragments of truth we piece back together,

evidence lies just below the surface,

if you know where to dig.

if you know where to dig.


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