“Los Volcanes de Brea” by Lynne Thompson
Los Volcanes de Brea
Micro-fossils: primordial woods, insects, mollusks,
seeds, and pollen grains. Covering the asphaltum:
dust, leaves, waters, old bones that darken the pit.
Rancho La Brea, once a salt mine, now Hancock Park,
is mired with the remains of tens of thousands of years.
Found during one expedition, 1769, led by Sr. Portola,
dire wolves, saber-toothed cats, pill bugs trapped in
tar geysers issuing from land-like springs. Magpies,
garter snakes, mammoths, scimitar cats. Well-kept,
trace of the La Brea woman (who probably suffered
a violent death at eighteen or twenty) ritually interred
with dog. Also found: falcons, ragweed, one Andalusian.
Lynne Thompson is the author of two full-length collections, Beg No Pardon and Start With A Small Guitar, as well as three chapbooks. A Pushcart Prize finalist, her poetry has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Poetry, Ecotone, Ploughshares, and African American Review, as well as the anthologies, Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond and Coiled Serpent, Poets Arising from the Cultural Quakes & Shifts of Los Angeles. A 2015-16 City of Los Angeles Individual Artist Fellow, and winner of the Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize in 2016, Thompson is Reviews and Essays Editor for the literary journal, Spillway.
Photo Credit: Scott Larsen