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A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2007, vol 3 no 3

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Bruce Ross

 

Pangaea

I am on the long rocky expanse of Tablelands above the bluffs of Atlantic Newfoundland looking for fossils. I had to, Indiana Jones-style, drive into a small gully and inch along a muddy and gravelly makeshift road to get here. It has been over fifty years since being enthralled by illustrations I found in H. G. Wells’ “Outline of History” of the primeval tropical forests and the early creatures that inhabited them. I copied them and brought the drawings to my public school teacher. In my basement a mineral and fossil collection began to grow. Now I understand these forests are part of the primal continent Pangaea where North America once lay at the equator. In little museums and major geologic sites in the Maritimes I examined the remnants of Pangaea: leaves, roots, branches, tree trunks, marine creatures, an early dragonfly, raindrops. Following a curator’s general directions I even located on a New Brunswick bluff a giant millipede and its track embedded in a rock. I felt a remembered surge of excitement as I looked, stone by stone and cliff by cliff, for the carbonized and fossilized remains.

                                                   on my third try
                                                 the familiar little shell
                                                   from an ancient sea