Fossil Fever

by Avra Margariti

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I have not slept a wink since I found you
my brain filled with primeval scales of terrible lizards.
Am I hatter-mad to say I want to break
into museums and excavation sites to be with you?
Am I Bedlam-bound to admit I would incinerate
all my books and white coats if it meant spending
a day or an eternity by your sempiternal side?
I would bleach my skin off my bones
to be alike you
would let my eardrums bleed and burst
to hear the roaring secrets of your kind.

I brushed you clean of grit and soil after I unearthed you
so tender in the sunlight.
Since then, my forehead has been hot and clammy,
my body burning–fossil fever.
My wife blanches when I tell her of the creature
remains deep underground.
She clutches her pearls, reaches for the fainting couch.
This is the Lord’s reckoning, she says,
and what if those beasts I speak of ever awaken
and find their way back to me, the one who
disturbed their bony slumber
and unveiled them to the world?
What if their giant jaws close around me
and carry me back to their dirt-and-root realm?

Oh, what if, indeed?

©️ 2020 by Avra Margariti

“Fossil Fever,” by Avra Margariti, was first published on December 17, 2020 in Love Letters to Poe and can be found in Love Letters to Poe, Volume I: A Toast to Edgar Allan Poe.

Interview with Avra Margariti, Author of “Fossil Fever”

Your poem is such a delightful love affair with dinosaur fossils. What inspired you to write it?

People throughout history had some strange notions regarding dinosaur fossils. Before the 19th century, scientists believed large excavated bones belonged to giant humans, like the ones found in the pages of the bible. The early-to-mid-1800s brought the discovery of dinosaurs, also known as “terrible lizards”.

I was particularly inspired by a woodcut depicting the paleontologist banquet of New Year’s Eve 1853, which was held inside the unfinished mold of the Iguanodon. I tried to imagine the kind of character who would enjoy greeting the new year from inside the belly of a dinosaur, toasting to its glory; thus my poem was born.

Have you written other gothic poems? What are you working on now?

I have written several poems in the same vein as “Fossil Fever”. They’re all part of the same poetry collection I’m currently working on, a curio cabinet populated with bizarre expressions of love. So far some of my romantic couples include an articulated cat skeleton and a diaphonized mouse specimen, an animated gargoyle and a voodoo doll, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way, a bog body and a mud golem, etc.

Do you have a theme you return to time and again?

I enjoy balancing opposite and competing forces in my writing, with themes such as light and dark, decay and rebirth, grief and love.

What else would you like people to know? Where can people find you online?

Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Vastarien, Asimov’s, Mirror Dance, Frozen Wavelets, Liminality, Glittership, Space and Time, Star*Line, Eye to the Telescope, Arsenika, and other venues. You can find her on Twitter @avramargariti.