Friday, February 3, 2012

Fossil Forest: An Original Poem about the Petrified Forest

I'm sorry that I haven’t been posting much lately. I’ve been extremely busy taking care of my granddaughter Julia—who will be six months old on Monday. Although I’m really tired when I return home from my daughter’s on Thursday evenings, I so enjoy spending half the week with my first grandchild and watching her grow and change. She is now sitting up…and chewing on everything—including all the board books that I read to her.

I have also been busy doing revisions on my Things to Do poetry collection that will be published by Chronicle books. (I wrote about the sale of my manuscript here.)

I have two more manuscripts that I’ve gotten back to work on lately. One is a collection of animal mask poems about little creatures that live near us or are familiar to most children—including frogs, earthworms, butterflies, crickets, honeybees, termites, spiders, and snails. The other collection is tentatively titled Docile Fossil. It includes poems about extinct animals, fossils, the La Brea Tar Pits, the coelacanth—a fish that was thought to be extinct for millions of years—and the Loch Ness monster. I’m posting a poem today about the Petrified Forest that I wrote for the collection. I’m not sure it works—or that it belongs in Docile Fossil. I’d appreciate your thoughts on the poem.

Fossil Forest: A Poem about the Petrified Forest

This landscape of logs
Seems desolate, drear.
A coniferous forest
Once flourished right here—
A forest of trees
So lofty and high
The tips of their crowns
Touched clouds in the sky.

Fallen trees turned to quartz,
Became mineralized, hard—
(Not at all like the trees
That grow in your yard.)
Don’t knock on this wood…
On a trunk,
On a bough.
You just might break your hand—
It’s all petrified now.

The Petrified Forest (National Park Service website)
Photo courtesy of Moondigger/Wikipedia


Karissa has the Poetry Friday Roundup at The Iris Chronicles.

Over at Blue Rose Girls, I have a post about Occupy Writers that includes a poem written by Alice Walker titled The World We Want Is Us.


Linda B said...

Hi Elaine, our granddaughters are so close in age-mine just was six months last Monday! You are lucky to spend so much time with her. I did spend Mondays for a while, but now she has a nanny. I was at a presentation with Georgia Heard yesterday & she used your 'Things To Do If You're A Pencil' as an example of a poem for non-fiction work. She possibly doesn't know about the coming book. I also enjoyed your petrified wood poem-neat to include the science so poetically!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I bet your granddaughter is a adorable. Babies grow and change so fast. I consider myself fortunate to be there when julia recahes certain milestones.

Thanks for letting me know about georgia using my "pencil" poem. I'm always happy to hear that my poems are being shared with others.

Science is one of my passions. I minored in science when I was getting my education degree.

jama said...

I like your petrified forest poem; you impart information with such ease and grace. It's not easy to make science "poetic"!

Can't believe Julia is already 6 months old!! Second photo is especially adorable :). She's got the right idea -- books *do* taste good !

Liz Steinglass said...

I like the contrast between the stanzas. I also like that you connect the petrified trees to the kids' experience, not like the trees in your yard.

I don't think you need the word "just." I've been cutting it out of my poems lately. It "just" seems to want to sneak in there.

Thanks for sharing.

Bridget R. Wilson said...

A lovely poem, Elaine. So excited about the publication of youir poetry collection. I'll definitely be buying copies for my libraries.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I'm looking forward to the day when Julia wants to lsten to me read books to her instead of eating them.



Thanks for your suggestion. I've just begun looking at the poems in this collection again. I think it best to excise unnecessary words.


Thanks, Bridget!

Matt D said...

My google feed picked up you poem, which I read and I liked. But now I'm having to juxtapose the images of ancient petrified tree ... with human fragility and youth.

Excellent! :)

Mary Lee said...

I'm SO looking forward to having your poetry on my SHELF instead of just on my computer!!

laurasalas said...

What a cutie patootie she is! Adorable!

I love your poem, Elaine! The "just" in the next-to-last line breaks the meter for me, though. And the first and second stanzas feel different in age appropriateness and voice. The first verse feels older and more sophisticated and serious. The second feels younger, more playful. Both are wonderful, but I felt a little disconnect from one to the next.

I have a little petrified log that weighs a ton--I love it, but I accidentally packed it away in post-Christmas cleanup, so it will stay boxed in the basement until next holidays:>(

I love the beauty and simplicity of this:

The tips of their crowns
Touched clouds in the sky.


Dredd said...

Elaine, please don't dare tell anyone over at the professors blog (hopefully only you will know that) about this poem. I have my image you know. It is about one tree in the forest, yet about all of them. I have one grand daughter and two grand sons. They would like your work for children. Cheers.