Paleontologists have yet to reach consensus
about the phenomenon. Long-necked, tailed
vertebrates found with their heads thrown
back—sexually ecstatic—or offering their throats
for sacrifice. Limbs found grid-like and flattened,
tails lain across the body like a single-stemmed
lily. In the throes of dying, raptors snap
backwards, writhing out a battle cry,
calling down the rapture. Or after
the skirmish, their eyes evaporated as they sank
into quiet—dark and wide—and the shrinking
world closed in. Claustrophobia: constriction
becomes the world. Or rigor mortis ran its tender
fingers through muscles as the river rose,
rich with silt—a comforting, easy burial.
Wesley Rothman’s poems and criticism have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, New England Review, Post Road, and Prairie Schooner, among other venues. Recipient of a Vermont Studio Center fellowship as well as Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations, he teaches writing and cultural literatures in the Boston area. This poem originally appeared in the Winter/Spring 2015 issue of the Bulletin.