Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DINOSAUR NATIONAL, by KAREN SWENSON

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DINOSAUR NATIONAL, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Jewelers, / in goggles and buttercup hardhats,
Last Line: Footprints, as they passed in the ashes.
Subject(s): Archeology; Dinosaurs; Fossils; Mothers

in goggles and buttercup hard hats,
chip out a cameo of dinosaur bones -
vertebrae necklaces,
pelvic abstracts,
a baby stegosaurus skull
like a Disney dragon.
The entire mountain's flank
is chiseled out,
a bas-relief
of rainy-day deaths on a sandbar
long before
the bingo card of our genes filled up.
Big in the hips herself,
it's not surprising
that earth would remember these.
But like a sentimental woman
who hoards
old dance cards
and ribbons from corsages,
she'll keep a feather
or the baby starfish
of a waterbird's footprint
one hundred fifty million years.
As I have treasured
the whorls of my son's day-old toes,
printed on his birth certificate,
so she preserved
four million years
two journeys taken on the same day
at Laetoli -
the long scratch
of a millipede's furrow in the dust
and a human romp of family
footprints, as they passed in the ashes.

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