Fossils

FOSSILS

by J. T. Barbarese


When he was young he used to spend the whole summer
in the abandoned slag heaps around the old mines
outside the city of Scranton. It would take him hours
to pick through the shale stacks, the sweat writing lines
in the dust on his face, and the old ball peen hammer
slung from his belt pinching his belly button.
Some days there was nothing to read but the signatures
of ice and erosion and tools. Then he'd find one,
a slate unnaturally filigreed with the fright masks
of a trilobite, ferns, the inferior commissures
of ancient clams. He would wrap them in moist newspaper
and carry them carefully home. Once his teacher asked
him to talk to the class about fossils.
          Satan plants them to trick us,
he said. When I get home I smash them to pieces.
 


J. T. Barbarese teaches English at Rutgers University. He is the author of (1989) and of a translation of Euripides's (1999).


All material copyright © 2000 . All rights reserved.


 

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In