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The 2012 Barbara Dunn Hartin Memorial Poetry Prize, Second Place

On Fossil Links That Cannot Speak

What dare I assume about Lucy
So long dead and gone it hardly matters
Whether she was human or ape
Whether she climbed or crawled
Or walked erect, or knew a name for self

And this new find, Selam, the one who left
Significant bones three million years in stone
They surmise she drowned
In a flood, and no one openly ponders
The coincidence of floods

How would Noah have counted
Her family? Would two have been saved?
Given berth among the beasts?
They lightly call her Lucy’s baby
But she nursed some other mother

A birth-daughter lost so early
That we want to know, need
To know if her mother cried out

Or were they merely animal, soulless
And mute before their skullcaps cleaved
Into stone with more mystery than answer
Did Dikika’s fossil child appeal
To a god? What if she beseeched

Noah’s God?
Or wailed psalms of comfort
Wishing to be saved
From endless death, the certain bind
When finite life and infinite time

Wash us all into stone, our mysterious
Skullcaps begging the future to know us
As human, not ape, as fulsome ones that spoke
Sang to something divine
And heard it answer back

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