Year: 2012

Tall al ‘Umayri, 7 July 1994

As thrilling as each new discovery is during a dig, the scientific process of documenting an archaeological site can occasionally become a bit tedious.

Tall al 'Umayri, 7 July 1994

Photographer Ron Graybill used a small whiteboard between each sequence of photos for a given square on a site’s grid to identify it during the development process. (Yes, we still used film back in 1994…) When we got particularly bored, we’d have a little fun with the interstitial photos.

BONUS: Compare my beard in 1994 with the beard that recently accompanied me to Emerald City Comicon. Beard-off! 1994 vs. 2012!

Andrew in a fez

Dunes at Willapa

Where the swale widens to the beach
and dune grass gives way to open sand,
my dogs have exhumed the body
of a harbor seal. Mummified
by wind, black-spotted fur flakes
off skin stretched over brown bones.

I find the pelvis, a femur, and four ribs.
Vertebrae bloom like flowers
on the damp sand. Each in its place,
I lay all that I’ve gathered:
Phalanges still connected by ligaments,
tibia and fibula together, scapula above,
ribs in rows down the spine.

With a driftwood spade, I set to work.
The odor of death blends with the scent
of kelp on the wind, with smoke
from a fire farther up the beach,
with the calls of gulls who hang
suspended in the air. A barrow rises
over the bones, ringed with stones
rolled smooth in the surf. Above,
clouds soar to the curving edge of the earth.

Ecliptic vertigo

I looked up one evening recently and saw the crescent Moon, Venus, and Jupiter forming a line across the deepening twilight sky. Suddenly, it seemed as though I could actually feel the Earth’s axial tilt — the moon and the planets showed me what was truly “horizontal” in relation to the much bigger solar system of which the Earth is just a minuscule part.

Luna Venere e Giove su Palermo

Photo by Carlo Columba

At that moment, waiting for my bus, the universe opened beneath my feet. I looked across the ecliptic to Jupiter and felt as though I were standing on the slope of a steep mountain at the edge of the sea, a lighthouse beaming across the darkness from the far shore. Below the line formed by Jupiter and Venus, I stared down into the depths of space.

To keep from feeling as if I were about to slip off the face of the Earth, I grabbed hold of the bus stop sign.