Carrying Reminders From The Sea ~ Thomas Reiter

The task you’ve given me, granddaughter,

is to follow with the knapsack

and hand you hammer, chisel, wire brush.

No billboard on the highway said

This Way to Fossil World, no one

sold us tickets to the ocean floor.

We’ve found our own quarry, long

abandoned, limestone the county

cut into blocks for trestles

or crushed for road beds.


Sometimes the chisel, wrongly-angled,

bounces off and makes ashen stars,

but you’re closing in on your display

for the fifth-grade science fair.

Here on our own shale banks

and sedimentary rills we play

a game you love called

What Does This Remind Me Of?


I’d say these tracks

crossing the fragment in my palm

are lines Madame Marie the Palmist

could read for us. You counter by freeing

a plate-size matrix done up

with thumbnail starfish—a witch’s

Frisbee, and we go on to

a stem like a stack of bottle caps,

a shell that could be an elf’s hat.


Tonight your handbook’s illustrations,

its binomials and eras,

may tell us we’ve been taken in

by one or two of the crystalline

branchings known as dendrites

or the friction markings called slickensides—

nature’s wooden nickels. But for now

we bend to a place where stones

may be anything but stone

and you load me down with what lifts me.