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Rosetta Stones

Rosetta Stones

Adventures in the good science of rock-breaking.

"Nothing Lasts, Eternal"

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This month's Accretionary Wedge is all about geopoetry, and you'd think that an SF writer who's got a story that's about a poetry war could pull something off. However, I got so wrapped up in Halloween madness that I nearly missed this one. If one of my long-time readers and favorite geology people ever, Karen Locke, hadn't asked me to post her poem, I'd have remembered only when the whole Wedge was posted. As it is, I'm two days late and hoping Karen and Matt will both forgive.

Karen's poem, "Vaughn Gulch: Devonian Limestone," comes complete with word pictures painted that are enough to make any geologist drool, along with a citation to a paper. I can't beat that. I won't even try. Instead, I'll fulfill a long-ago request from Bora and others that I post a bit of my fiction here.

The following poem comes from a short-story-in-progress that explores the poetry battles fought between two famous poets of long ago. This poem is being delivered by Nahkorah, who is watching her rival Disahnahle carve a brief poem into a slab of mudstone. There's quite a bit of context and culture and so forth that go in to this, but it's probably enough to know for now that they are both what we earthlings would call unicorns, that Nahkorah's branch of the species lives on the plains and Disahnahle's lives in the mountains, and tensions have been rising that threaten to tear the world apart along that dividing line. Actual civil war has been postponed while factions watch the poetic combat. Nahkorah, watching Disahnahle work in the cool and quiet peace of a cave, has been struck by a sudden realization, and this is the result.

Nothing lasts, eternal

Unchanged

Yesterday long past

Someone cooled their hooves in the mud of a stream

Where today you carve a line

Which holds greater worth:

That moment of coolness

Those lasting words?

I know what each of you would say

Nothing lasts

Things become separate

That side of the stream or this

This elevation or that

Mountains rise, plains fall

And it is often forgotten

That this mountain was a plain once

That this plain washed down from a peak

Things separate

Not really separate

Need for divisions

Divides us

Without boundaries we would be no different

We need divisions

Remember the places between

It's got a bit of geological imagery in it, so hopefully it will do. Geology makes wonderful metaphors, and I love weaving it through stories and poems, allowing it to say necessary things without necessarily saying those things plainly.

One day, I will actually finish this story, and share it with you, should you wish it. After Mount St. Helens, anything is possible.

Copyright 2012 Dana Hunter. All rights reserved.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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