Round, puckered and striated like a nipple, the fossil
hides among rocks on the mountain top. I stroke it,
feeling the bumps and indentations in grey rock.
Limestone, perhaps. Below, sky stretches, endless,
fading toward white. It shimmers like the sea. I call you
to see this ancient stone creature, knowing
how you like breasts, the soft roundness of them,
the responsiveness of nipples. Not rock ones,
of course, but still, "come check it out."
But you frown and step back, refuse to touch it,
and when I look back, I see, not a fossil,
but a dead girl, naked, lying deep in the rocks,
disintegrating. An arm here, a leg there,
features half rotted from her skull, the nipple
just showing in shadow on the twisted torso
deep between the summit's rocks.
Boulders shift and ocean now surrounds us.
We're on a breakwater, but no waves strike
the rocks. The water is still, calm and blue as a summer sky.
We stare at the dead girl. She's become intact and fully clad,
her clothes pressed and clean. Her cheeks blush
with color, brightening. She lies on top of the rocks,
no longer lost between them, and I'd swear I see her
breathing. She's flung across a slanted rock
as if dropped there by great bird, head downward, legs up,
long brown hair draped down the rock toward the water,
facing the endless blue above. We're on an island,
a shrinking island, no land in sight, only the glassy water,
the unmarred sky. I'm surprised when I realize
she looks a lot like me, at maybe nineteen.
Her eyelids flutter, and I awaken, in another century,
in a distant place, alive, and much much older. Tears
dribble down my cheeks.
Mary Stebbins Taitt
090403-0930-2a, 090402-1757-1c, 090402, 1st 4:15 PM; from a dream last week