Eocene Beech Leaf

This ghost filled in with stone for flesh,
with spine and delicate ribs legible
and a fragment of the fragile blade chipped off,
this leaf imprinted on a page of shale,
all the more tender for its injury,
for forty million years has held its place.

Startling in a way to see so far back—
as if we’d found between leaves of a book
a picture of ourselves from much younger days
and remembered nearly everything about it
except just why we’d put it there.