Paleontology, Foxes

By Nandita Naik


T-Rex © NoIdentity (

At a museum I saw the remains of a T-Rex
with its eyes stolen away,
an ancient arrow silvering its throat.
There is always a hunter
and his hands. Cold fingers
learning to strangle the night
and everything else they cannot tame.

My hair falls, clogging
the rivers under my floorboards.
As I weaken, my eyelids heal
and I harpoon my fingers
to remember the sea.
When a hunter forgets his hands,
he demands my face.
I could build pearls in the spaces
between your teeth, love.
The rest of me eclipses into feverish dreams.

In a nightmare, I mend my sutures
with wildflowers, kneel by the river
and drink. But I have learned the hard way
how soft my skull is. But I know enough
to only drink when the skinned-knee forest
grows heavy with child: lurching into springtime,
my voice birthing itself again and again.
One day, I must stop singing
because of a hunter and his hands.

But in prehistoric rocks,
my hands keep the beat.
Even when my body fossilizes,
dreaming of amber.


Dear Mama,
Last night I sewed daisies to wet concrete, saw the flowers twist
themselves to stew. There is nothing fizzy
about any of this. I lied. The flowers caged themselves
the way I feel up the floor every day for mines,
if only to cradle one and throw it to the foxes.

Out of the fur of so many foxes,
I crocheted a doll and named it Mama.
It looks nothing like you, but it’s mine.
I made it beady button eyes and twisted
off its hair. When it rains, the puddles touch themselves.
When it rains, I bathe in Alka-Seltzer fizz

and find ways to seduce boys with fizzy
hair. They help me, all the dead foxes.
They help me plan, even as they hammer themselves
into deeper holes. I never believed you, Mama,
when you said you were coming back. Maybe that was your twisted
way of triggering the mines,

of setting the stage for an explosion–mine.
I play at church to stop the psalms from fizzing.
I sneak my doll into the pews, make her twist,
hold her leg above her heart. So many foxes
out hunting for you, Mama.
I’m praying that they find you by themselves.

The foxes sing of how they fed themselves
with Alka-Seltzers and untouched mines.
They still chant your name, Mama,
a nameless thing fizzing
through their throats, silvering the quiet. Still the foxes
translate my hands into bruises, make fingers scuttle and twist.

When you left, I commanded my doll to twist
everything you ever wrote. Ciphers too cold to know themselves,
too weak to crowbar a jaw. All my favorite foxes
drowned clutching babies. They were trying to mine
the riverbed for gold that fizzes
out of their hands–but what can you do, Mama?

I love foxes more the harder they twist.
Pause the scabs in you, Mama. Don’t let them close themselves.
Tell the mines under your bed to keep fizzing.

Nandita Naik is a high school junior at Proof School forthcoming/published in Blue Marble Review, Polyphony HS, Crashtest, the Rising Phoenix Review, and Canvas Lit. Journal. She will attend the Iowa Young Writer’s studio this fall.

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