A Natural History of the United States

Primarily there were rocks,
the silicates: quartz, (we’ll list them),
feldspars – orthoclase packed
in pegmatites made up a vast expanse,
trace elements: copper, nickel,
twisted knobs of gold in hematite.
Obviously, there was water.
For example, observe the canyons,
large salt deposits, clear evidence
of glacial scour, puddingstone.
Scurrying over it, arthropods,
turkeys, ammonites, everything
that crawls and swims, the inland
seas teeming with jellyfish,
obtuse things with pulsing notochords,
angry primates filled with ecstasy.
Beneath them concrete slabs, long bridges,
chewing gum. The wheels that crush things
churning, monuments on hilltops,
a single tractor-trailer sitting idle
thrummed like a cicada once.
In other words, the stage was set for us
to pin up maps around the living room.

This is a reprint of work originally published in New England Review of Books.

Samuel Wronoski grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and now lives in New York, where he is pursuing his PhD in computer science at the CUNY Graduate Center. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the journals After the Pause, Fulcrum, and the Boston Compass, among others.

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