unearthing

Off season, and the tourists for the most
     part back on the mainland until next
holiday, my brother the scientist
     digs for his lost etiology,
his fons et origo on a palm isle;
     this archaeological work-in-progress
begun only a few years earlier,
     researching our family mythology.

I will watch him for long hours on end
     under an interrogative sun-
he has hollowed out a deep depression
     in the unyielding soil; I have ceased
to fear for his safety, my brave brother
     in the trenches, despite the site’s cruel &
impossible terrain with its faults &
     fissures that threaten to swallow him whole.

I wonder what vast cache of treasures may
     be hidden just beneath the hard earth
in which he excavates; pedestal,
     plinth or column, perhaps from some time-worn
temple foundation, some half-buried ruin.
     I also imagine all manner
of unspeakable horror- mummified
     remains, torture chambers and the like

below ground, in caverns & catacombs
     beneath the terraced surface of his
dig. He will carefully remove each
     inch of dirt; sift, sort, categorize &
compile the data as he brushes off
     every encrusted fragment he can pull
up, searching for clues long buried in these
     acres of strata; for what appears

to be just more rock ends up as charred bone;
     what at first seemed to be scratches
reveals hieroglyph, ancient scripture or
     pictograph mapping; what looked to be
but gravel deceives the untrained eye-
     here pot shards accidentally discarded.

Autumn cracked open like birth yesterday,
     like a difficult labor with an
unplanned child & suicidal mother,
     and I have taken the last
ferry back to the city, leaving
     him alone in his alluvium silt.

 

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