Unearthed

Nothing much stays buried in the dark.
Not much left an e-search won’t excavate.

Rat-chewed nuts prove Maori tenure on New Zealand,
and Toumai-sweet speckled skull
of a human-chimp half-breed:
these unearthed and brought to light on our computer screens.

Stable isotopes of DNA teased from mummies
determine corn-fed children died fat and happy.
Follow a link to the words of an Incan girl
who said to a Spanish chronicler: Finish with me now,
because the celebrations they held for me in Cuzco were enough.

Dig the internet and you’ll find
skullduggery abounds: Osceola’s head,
removed by an Army surgeon and embalmed,
traveled north to wind up in the Surgical and Pathological Museum,
burned to the ground in 1866 — but stories of Osceola head trips persist.

Blackhawk, also beheaded, skull also lost to museum fire,
might envy Geronimo whose head bones get kissed
by Yale’s Presidents-to-Be, if we are to believe
the boast of Skull and Bones, the Bush men’s secret sect
who seemed to believe the tale themselves,
who offered Geronimo’s descendants a skull
whose a toothy death’s head smile turned out
to belong to a ten-year old child.

More wonderful to find 5000 year-old gum
dug up by students in Finland yields DNA.
What we don’t learn from quids mouthed millennia ago,
we may well find in fossil feces,
coprolites 14,300 years old pre-date Clovis
and open land-tenure questions never dreamt of
by an ancestor who kept his head, but dined on grouse
then took relief in a cave one fine long, long ago day
just now come to light once more.

FIRST PUBLISHED IN AN EARLIER FORM IN National Monuments,
(Michigan State University Press, 2008)

Printed from Cerise Press: http://www.cerisepress.com

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