Waking Up After Having Gotten Too Drunk and Saying Something Stupid the Night Before
Fifteen million years ago, a once-virile woolly rhinoceros staggers its rot-sodden body beyond the reach of prehistoric lions,
collapses into the shallows of a lake, and sinks into the mulched muck murking its weedy bottom.
When a nearby volcano erupts, its peptic belly bursting, molten basalt surges through fissures in the lakebed.
The slurry of boiling minerals mixes with the water, solidifies its waves, and engulfs the disease-engorged rhinoceros, encapsulating its decay.
Skin and hair, muscle and fat, tendon, nail and bone, the mammal decomposes, leaving behind a rhinoceros-shaped pouch in the solid rock.
Over millennia, tectonic plates tense, grind like molars, groan like turgid girders.
The earth’s shifting crust lifts planes and prairies into peaks, cantilevers the stone lake onto the side of a rising mountain.
Millions of years of burrowing raindrops and winds that rub the rough skin off cliff-faces expose the rhino-contoured cave in modern-day Kyrgyzstan.
I’d like to crawl into that hole and curl into a fetal position while outside time sweeps past like retreating glaciers.
Paul Christiansen received his BA at St. Olaf College and his MFA at Florida International University where he worked as editor-in-chief of Gulf Stream Magazine and assisted with Jai-Alai Magazine. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Atlanta Review, Pleiades, Quarter After Eight, Threepenny Review, Zone Three and elsewhere. A former Fulbright Fellow and winner of two Academy of American Poetry awards, he currently resides in Saigon. www.paulchristiansen.net