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How to Geologise Abroad

Sep. 5, 2010
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He chipped
at hillocks.

Hammer-tapped
slaty sandstone
scales of mica
granite, veins
of feldspar & quartz.  

Humboldt (of course)
had been here before

but Charles would leave
his own score

the beat of a mallet
defeating the cleavage of eons

ferruginous stone
abounding with fossils.

All around him
slow toil: Snow,
Volcano, Earthquake,
Thunder Storms.

He could hear the plinging
of little molten tears
the red lapilli lava had left
falling through the air

welding the animals in.


Emily Ballou is an American-Australian poet, screenwriter and novelist. She is the author of the novels Father Lands and Aphelion (Picador), and the 2009 verse-portrait of Charles Darwin The Darwin Poems (University of Western Australia Press). The Darwin Poems was awarded the 2010 Wesley Michel Wright Poetry Prize, highly commended in the Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for three other Australian awards. She lives between Sydney and Glasgow.

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