Twelve Short Talks on Aspects of Origins

By | 15 May 2023

In the lottery for topics I got
obsidian—that appearance of glass
when lava cools;

at the margin of what it means
to be a rock. Good thing
I was adopted, at home

with loose connections.
This dark off-cut from our teacher
I am passing around

comes from the island-quarry
on my poster. Somebody
once sailed there to fashion by hand

a blade, a necklace maybe.
Obsidian can be traced back
with precision, the Britannica

told me, because each
hardened flow is unique.
X-rays helped to map

the Pacific migration of tools
(red on my chart)
and their peoples (green).

Local, though, is the volcanic
glass in this closeup
of a coral eye on Rapa Nui

where the statues—hands up—
face the ocean, or inland?
The way they look

fooled our teacher, too.
And it isn’t strange I cannot see
more of myself in that off-cut

now drifting along the stoic row
of parents watching.
They’re only slightly less opaque

than a bucket of water.
The mirrors, I mean,
that obsidian made. Pre-metal.

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