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For Lucy Who Came First

by
 She simply settled down in one piece right where she was,
    in the sand of a long-vanished lake edge or stream--and died.
—Donald C.
Johanson, paleoanthropologist When I put my hand up to my face I can trace her heavy jawbone and the sockets of her eyes under my skin.
And in the dark I sometimes feel her trying to uncurl from where she sank into mudbound sleep on that soft and temporary shore so staggeringly long ago, time had not yet cut its straight line through the tangle of the planet, nor taken up the measured sweep that stacks the days and seasons into an ordered past.
But I can feel her stirring in the core of me, trying to rise up from the deep hollow where she fell— wanting to prowl on long callused toes to see what made that shadow move, to face the creature in the dark thicket needing to know if this late-spreading dawn will bring handfuls of berries, black as blood, or the sting of snow, or the steady slap of sand and weed that wraps itself like fur around the body.

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