‘Crinoids’ by U.S. Dhuga


Side A

Saying “goodnight” on her gravel driveway
north of Coventry, she stops and stoops
to show me rocks–little ridged sand-coloured tubes
which in prehistoric seas, she says,
were flowers with six-foot stalks and lily-sprays
of stems on top so that these now-fossils look
threaded, like so many mangled screws.
Sometimes, she says, if you find them in situ,
you can make out longer stretches and–look!
she says–trace the branch between the stalk
and what was once a flower. I balk:
surely, not a word of this is true.
Sifting gravel, I find none. She finds two
and she says “they’re for you.”

Side B

I saved them, fossils found in limestone laid
down over ancient seas, she said,
and because that limestone is quarried
for gravel, the fossils show up in Coventry driveways.
I keep the rocks she gave me buried
in the breast-pocket of the blazer I wore
that night. Sixteen, unsure how long I’d stay
in England, desperate to avoid
the thought of more
relocations, I turn those rocks–crinoids,
she said–between my hands. Just rocks
which somewhere, some time, were flower-stalks.


U. S. Dhuga earned his PhD, MPhil, and MA in Classical Philology at Columbia University (2006), after graduating from Amherst College (2001) and Harrow (1997).  He is presently Professor of Classics at Calvin College in Michigan.  His book, Choral Identity and the Chorus of Elders in Greek Tragedy, was published in 2011 through Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies. Raised in North London, U. S. Dhuga lives across and in between New York, Michigan, Toronto, London, and New Delhi.  Dhuga is Founder, Publisher, and Managing Editor of The Battersea Review–an international poetry quarterly spanning poets from over 20 nationalities, which can be accessed at thebatterseareview.com and batterseareview.com