from The Hell Creek Anthology
By JT Welsch.
from The Hell Creek Anthology
(after Edgar Lee Masters)
Together in this grave lie Triceratops maximus, attorney at law,
And Nyx, his turtle, constant companion, solace and friend.
Down the gray path, friends, offspring, bulls and cows,
Passing one by one out of life, left me till I was alone
With Nyx for partner, bed-fellow, comrade in root gnawing.
In the morning of life, I knew aspiration and saw glory.
Then she, who survives me, gored my soul
With a horn which bled me to death,
Till I, once strong of will, lay broken, indifferent,
Living with Nyx in the back of a dingy cave.
Under my jaw-bone is snuggled the bony nose of Nyx—
Our story is lost in silence. Go by, mad planet!
I know he told you I gored his soul
With a horn which bled him to death.
And all the bulls loved him,
And most of the cows pitied him.
But suppose you are really a lady, and have delicate tastes,
And loathe the smell of rot-barberry and moss.
And the rhythm of Roarsworth’s “Ode” runs in your earholes,
While he goes about from morning till night
Repeating bits of that common thing:
“Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud…”
And then, suppose:
You are a cow well-endowed,
And the only bull with whom the law and morality
Permit you to have the marital relation
Is the very bull that fills you with disgust
Every time you think of it—while you think of it
Every time you see him?
That’s why I drove him away from home
To live with his turtle in a dingy cave.
Well, Thescelosaurus, your prayers were not wasted.
Your love was not all in vain.
I owe whatever I was in life
To your hope that would not give me up,
To your love that saw me still as good.
Dear Thescelosaurus, let me tell you the story:
I pass the effect of my father and mother;
The horn-dresser’s daughter made me trouble
And out I went in the world,
Where I passed through every peril known
Of rot-root and heifers and joy of life.
One night, in a den in the Gudamj Ereg-khuroo,
I was gnawing root with a black-eyed Barsboldia,
And the tears swam into my eyes.
She thought they were amorous tears and smiled
For thought of her conquest over me.
But my soul was four thousand miles away,
In the days when you taught me in Hell Creek.
And just because you no more could love me,
Nor pray for me, nor stomp-signal,
The eternal silence of you spoke instead.
And the black-eyed Barsboldia took the tears for hers,
As well as the deceiving kisses I gave her.
Somehow, from that hour, I had a new vision—
Where is my male juvenile—
In what far part of the planet?
The juvenile I loved best of all in school?—
I, the teacher, the old maid, the virgin head,
Who made them all my offspring.
Did I know my young bull aright,
Thinking of him as spirit aflame,
Warm-blooded, ever aspiring?
Oh, young bull, for whom I prayed and prayed
In many a watchful moment at night,
Do you remember my stomp signals
On the beautiful love of Dionysus?
And whether you ever took it or not,
My bull, wherever you are,
Work for your soul’s sake,
That all the clay of you, all of the dross of you,
May yield to the lava of you,
Till that lava is nothing but light! …
Nothing but light!
When Triceratops prorus ran away and threw me,
I went to Judith River. There I met a lush,
Whose father just deceased left him a fortune.
He married me when root-stick. My life was wretched.
A year passed and one day they found him dead.
That made me rich. I moved on to Oldman.
After a time met Daspletosaurus, villain.
I moved on to Dinosaur Park. A wrinkled magnate
Went mad about me—so another fortune.
He died one night right at my feet, you know.
(I saw his purple face for years thereafter.)
There was almost a scandal. I moved on,
This time to Nemegt. I was now an adult female,
Insidious, subtle, versed in the planet and rich.
My sweet den near Taria Nirvaan
Became a center for all sorts of creatures,
Singers, poets, dandies, artists, nobles,
Where we spoke Uzbek and Spanish, Mongolian, English.
I wed Graf Itemirus, native of Navoi.
We went to Bissekty. He poisoned me, I think.
Now in the Mozoriston bone-bed, overlooking
The shore where young Tiktaalik dreamed new worlds,
See what they scratched: “Grafinya Itemirus
So’rov abadiy tinchlikuzbe.”
I was the horn-dresser
Talked about, lied about,
Mother of Leptoceratops,
Whose strange disappearance
Was charged to her rearing.
My eye quick to beauty
Saw much beside reeds
And frills and feathers
And bones and hides,
To set off sweet faces,
Deep colorings with a splash of gold.
One thing I will tell you
And one I will ask:
The stealers of husbands
Wear chalk and trinkets,
And fashionable frills.
Wives, wear them yourselves.
Frills may make divorces—
They also prevent them.
Well now, let me ask you:
If all of the hatchlings born here in Hell Creek
Had been reared by the Formation, somewhere on a kept field;
And the fathers and mothers had been given their freedom
To live and enjoy, change mates if they wished,
Do you think that Hell Creek
Had been any the worse?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JT Welsch‘s poems have previously appeared in Blackbox Manifold, PN Review, Boston Review, Stand, Manchester Review, and the chapbooks Orchids (Salt, 2010), Waterloo (Holdfire, 2012) and Orchestra & Chorus (Like This, 2012). He currently lives in York, where he is a lecturer in Creative Writing and English Literature at York St John University.
First published in 3:AM Magazine: Saturday, August 17th, 2013.