started with a pair of desert boots I begged for seventh grade
that arrived weeks after everyone stopped wearing
them. I know. I was spoiled.
A billion people in
China were desert-bootless-- I didn't care. My mother
started wearing them around the house, then for short trips
Soon she added my discarded denim bell bottoms
with red pinstripes, my leather belt
with the dancing bears
buckle. My teen years were haunted by mismatched
of my old selves-- my mother's pale, smiling face
perched on top. I tried
hiding my old clothes at school,
but she found them. I gave them to Goodwill
bought them. Even after I moved out, married, had children,
I never knew
what mishmash of my old tie-dyed T-shirts, disco
shoes, madras shorts or wide-collared
floral shirts would
show up at Christmas or Fourth of July along with news
more successful classmates and clip ped obits of neighbors I
never knew I'd known.
I soak my old clothes in gasoline
now; burn them on the darkest night of the month
strip naked and howl. For a moment I am free.
Dinner One August
found the dinosaur bones in the swamp behind Alec's house.
first bones, they must have been forelegs, made great
clacking sharply with each collision, whistling when
The skull, almost intact and big enough
for Alec to crawl inside, echoed
to his chants I
am the dinosaur's brain
while Felix and I laughed.
The ribs, after a little digging,
rose out of the muck like a giant claw
ringing sharply in the
twilight when Felix banged them with the foreleg.
rapped the skull with small stones and I blew
horn-shaped skin (it must have been a claw).
The moon rose and
clouds blew off the black, black sky.
Alec bellowed and we
hooted and cawed until Alec's mom
yelled from atop the stone
wall at the edge of his yard: Hey!
draped the night like a magician's cape.
would you like it,
dinosaurs dug up your bones and started playing with them?
I threw the claw like a dagger, I could take out her-- but I lost
my nerve. Now,
burying them. When I get back I want everything as it was.
She jumped off the wall, disappeared into the darkness and we
went to work.
Hail began to rain on us, tinging off the
bones, dinging off our heads.
By the time we'd finished
and rushed inside, a layer of mini white meteors
everything. I moved that spring. When I drove back
they were gone: Alec, the house, the swamp, the
(as in Big)
Cavers claim to know the ping and groan of Rock, the hundred
for black, claim to be the true ridge-walkers, clay
troglodites. They bicker with
spelunkers, pristine compass clutchers
They ridicule those Latinate dilettantes, ill-equipped
underground jaunters, wakening bats from afternoon batnaps.
neither digs deep enough, these surface-dwelling posers separated
by slivers of shadowed hours and gear pedigree. When I
grab lamp and rope
and slide down fissured rock, past
stratified sand stone, lime stone, slate,
stalactite caverns, gold-veined grottos, dark rivers of
past basalt and granite, I shed my headlamp, jungle
boots, mud-caked coveralls.
Brow stretches as
cerebellum shrinks; body hair sprouts; nails curl to claw.
grip rock as flesh, gnaw on petrified remains of prehistoric
crawl down crevices of adamant and scoria to
sub-subterranean terra-cotta sea
where cool becomes radiant
orange, darkness opens to molten core and I dive in,
web-fingered, lava-gilled until liquid thins to swirling gas.