The Dinosaurs of My Youth

Keep coming back with new configurations
of armor and bone, feathers for scales, car-
nivorous accessories glinting a fine digital
light. Already I miss the Mesozoic, the era
before the meat eaters’ gamesmanship

when dinosaurs were the size of chickens
cowering in bull rushes and tar pits and all
it took to rule was a few thousand alligator
ancestors flexing their average-sized tails
and flashing their dirty dinnerware teeth.

But if destruction has so many names
we ought to know at least a few. Now it’s so
long Brontosaurus, hello Argentinosaurus,
Shantungosaurus, a whole new taxonomy
of sauropods. In my four-year-old’s

theory of extinction one dinosaur touched
something hot – volcano or stovetop – and
another and another until the heat spread
and they all burned up from the inside.
Maybe she’s wrong about extinction but right

about desire, the exercise in mass die-out
we practice for our tamer selves. What I saw
last night when I closed my eyes the moment
before you made me come for the third time –
still dragging our ragged unendurable bodies

across the alkaline plains – was not volcano or
ash, crater or spark, not the winging laundry lines
of the last million passenger pigeons in their pen-
ultimate rapture but the fields snowed calf-deep
in shit, moon spitting back its mouthful of light.

Elyse Fenton is the author of the poetry collection, Clamor, which was awarded the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize. Her second manuscript, Sweet Insurgent, won the Alice Fay di’Castagnola Prize from the Poetry Society of America. Her poetry and prose have been published in American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, Zzyzyva, The New York Times, and elsewhere.