Monday, June 8, 2015

The Mastadon of the La Brea Tar Pits

Only fragments remain
Bits of millennia-old bone fossilized
In tar that bubbles below
Los Angeles’ overcrowded avenues.

In the Ice Age, Mastodon was master.
Trampling sloths, skunks, lizards, insects
that scurried beneath feet, 
Deflecting predators with a flick of the head.

But a Mastodon was no match for a lake of tar.
Feet became shackles. 
Tusks a weapon of self-destruction
Digging him deeper into the pit. 

After paleontologists harvested
Teeth, tusks, and jaw, they pieced
The world’s most difficult puzzle together.
Bone stained by centuries of black,

Now the grinning beast
Is suspended from a museum ceiling.
Eye sockets stare through six foot tusks.
Past school children and tourists,

At traffic on Wilshire Boulevard, 
Skyscrapers built over tar
Trampling fragments of prehistory
And humans who scurry across pavement.

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