I recollect the old dry watercourse
where I was seated, splitting shale, each hammer blow
revealed to my expectant gaze another silent sea floor fragment
from 400 million years ago—
when in the rock appeared, against all odds,
the clean cast of an unknown fossil with some crinoids, brachiopods,
the common fauna from its marine source.
The paleo-biologists were swift
to ascertain this fossil was a new carpoid
and as Victoriacystis wilkinsi they linked this creature to my name,
whereby I can’t avoid
but marvel the coincidence that two
so disparate lives in space and time were thrown together through
the vagaries of continental drift.
It’s hard to comprehend a form of life
its line extinct, with nothing like it living now.
A flattened sack of calcite plates that differ front and back, two
openings—an anus, mouth, we can allow—
but we have no idea which is which,
a stalk perhaps to fix the creature to its chosen sea floor niche,
or with a prod propel it out of strife.
How strange that this obscure and let’s agree
unknowable thing, so long extinct, no claim to fame,
should through binomial appellation be posthumously appointed
to be forever guardian of my name.
If locked in rock it emulates Lot’s wife
it might be said that by my gaze I gave it resurrected life—
that in its turn will do the same for me.