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Background: The Oriskany Sandstone is a huge rock formation that crops out in New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. In some places it is highly fossiliferous. In Virginia these fossils consist almost entirely of "gaps" or holes in the rock called molds.

Oriskany Sandstone

This yellow once-beach rises at the crest
of an inland hill, reminder of waves
and storms reduced to grains and lines and caves
that once were living clams. These hollows pressed
tight by passing years, remind us
now of how the sea swept beaches clean and
forced the living water down through sand
that human feet had never known and rose
to swirl away again, new grains on old
each leaving traces in the lines that form
whisper-thin beds that mean years have worn
away. No shells for these fossils, these molds
are now empty, the wash of years having
wasted away.

                  We stand on the roadside
staring blankly at this beach where no wash
moves sand, no live sea thing is left to cling
to rocks against the battering assault of tide
and briny spray. And yet--these rocks do live
if you hear past hollowing years and dive
into the pulse that drives the ocean depths.


© 2002 Steven Riddle

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 18, 2003 7:22 AM.

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