This year, the following poem won 2nd place in the New York State Fair Poetry Contest! It was a joy to go there and read it aloud, along with other contest winners. My inner 8-year-old was thrilled to learn that there was such a thing as a State Fossil. And then when I saw what it looked like…well. All the better.
*also known as the sea scorpion, Eurypterus Remipes is the NY State Fossil.
Sea scorpion is a name
mysterious, briny, deadly
a fearsome label placed by those
perhaps unsettled by the ancient creature.
When Eurypterus Remipes
emerged to land 300 million years ago
was it with the stealth of the hungry
spying a trilobite and trying a bite
not yet knowing it would proliferate,
fossil remnants of its empire
littering the Empire State?
It could not know, Eurypterus
that its name would sound like “uterus”
to yet-unimagined humanoids noting
its resemblance to female organs.
Were the white-bearded scientists
who discovered Eurypterus horrified,
giant conquering vaginas ruling the Silurian period?
Was that ability to birth, then with brackish versatility
partake of pleasure unbridled
perhaps the most fearsome –
hence, a cautionary nickname?
And would it please Ms. Eurypterus to know
that modern New York women have
our own sea scorpions, in our lawful control,
these rights, at least for now, not extinct?