The Journal of Glacial Archaeology

by Derek Mong


Baskets, brooms, and arrowheads
             with “lashings perfectly preserved”;
                         the dregs from jugs

             that tell how Incan youths
got drunk; and then a field
                         of fetid reptiles the cold

                         no longer deigns to hold—
             its scent alerts a lucky
researcher who runs

to beat the baking sun.
             “For every discovery,” our editor
                         concedes, “there are

             thousands decomposing.”
Bodies, he means, the relics
                         hardest to recover.

                         There is, we learn, so much
             left to learn. His boon
is good if misbegotten.


Mount Hood in early spring:
             its southern face a glaze
                         the sunlight sloughs away.

             Blots of dirt break through;
the dirt—it’s dark—absorbs
                         the light; the light is hot

                         and heats the earth—
             the earth thaws a thinning snowpack.
The melt will spread like melanoma.

And yet there’s snow enough
             for us to rent these inner tubes
                         we roll uphill

             then race downhill together.
Look at us, my love: a family
                         that moves in one direction.

                         That is until our son
             insists on sailing solo.
Lawyerly, dwarfed at five

by this tire’s insides,
             he says he wants
                         to learn his limits.

             Let him make mistakes,
the guidebooks always say.
                         Mistakes are so instructive.


Past heaps of rock that jut
             like dragon teeth and through
                         a field concealed

             beyond the fir trees;
past snowbanks whipped like thick meringue
                         and down through pooling sunlight—

                         two figures are emerging.
             They rise as snow dissolves
in gauzy shreds, a sheet

drawn back to show fingers,
             heels, a leathery earlobe.
                         By noon they breach the air:

             a small body wrapped
inside a large one. This is an age
                         of deliquesced resurrection.

                         This is love so pure—
             see how she turns his head, small eyes
buried in her breast—

that when catastrophe
             loomed, she held one thought:
                         I cannot let him know it.

Derek Mong is the author of two poetry collections from Saturnalia Books, Other Romes (2011) and The Identity Thief (forthcoming, 2018), and a chapbook, The Ego and the Empiricist (Two Sylvias Press, 2017). The Byron K. Trippet Assistant Professor of English at Wabash College, he blogs at the Kenyon Review Online and reviews new poetry for the Gettysburg Review. Blackbird recently published “Colloquy with St. Mary of Egypt,” his 300-line seduction of a desert saint.