Writer's Workshop

Future Artifacts

© Carolyn Welch. All rights reserved.

Summary: Though this has been published before, it is old and I have permission from the publisher to use it here. This is part of my previously published poetry collection “California Poems,” a look at extinction, vanishing, and environmental degradation. I will share these poems from time to time. Here is one considering our own future, and how we might be studied once we’re gone.


Future Artifacts

Digging through alluvium deposits,
they’ll see broken teeth, bullets,
rusted hulks, sunken concrete walks,
and cuneiform of graffiti–and ask:
Who did these things? What were they like?

We’ll be bowsed and carbon-dated;
they’ll find diffusion from London to Hollywood:
flaxen doll heads, toaster coils, and silicon.
Fallen streetlamps poking through loam,
and crumbled temples divulging gold.

Our matrices will be filled with midden:
polyester fringe from the streets,
diamonds and emeralds near every
twentieth skeletal finger bone,
television knobs, color-coded wire strands,
and obtuse signs that flashed on mountain
passes and stood sentinel on the
outskirts of now rubble city mounds.

Coprolitic studies will reveal the gumbo:
hormonally enhanced and DNA-modified protein,
genetically altered strains of vegetable foodstuffs–
the dung found amid articles of worship:
crosses, banners, beads, gates, and stars,
multi-lingual prayerbooks and hymnals.

The central meeting places will have
converged and died, ocean to ocean–
leaving a giant trenchcoat of many pockets,
from which they will pull rabbit foot and ruby,
ivory tusk and coin, paw and key–
and excavate our bodies from the linings.
They’ll put who we are in their top hat.

Image credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 (scorched land resulting from slash-and-burn agriculture)

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