Poetry‎ > ‎Prairie Schooners‎ > ‎

Secrets of Excavation

Saint Paul, 22 January 2005

Freewheeling cottony seed-pods
Levitate our earthen fortifications
Over unforgotten debts
Across post and lintel timbers
Resting on shattered timepieces
And century-old train schedules

Our errand is posterity’s compost
To burnish buried lamps of bulletins
Secreting a glimpse of collapse
Our walking sticks prod and poke loam
As unexpressed narratives exceed
The manifold of repose

Should we discover a satchel
Embossed with paternal initials
The contents might include a dapper
Cravat of some traveler eternal
Or postmarked letters written in a
Graceful but illegible fountain pen

We’re not privy to these communiqués
Since the tools we've excavated
Were never intended to do work, rather
They're so the great-grandchildren
Of your distant progeny would know
What it was you did for a living

If the future floods the valley
One by one we’ll hoist them to high ground
Trudge burdened by backpacks of bones
From cold storage to unforeseen purgatories
Understanding we assent the laws of antiquity
We may read but not cross over