Enormous beast on six legs stands in the Hall

of Meteorites. Small children like to crouch

or crawl beneath him. Looking up, they feel

he's friendly. True, he can't attack. Cold,

dense, heavier than iron, his ridged back shows

scalloped melt-marks. Flaming lump, he tumbled,


blunt buffalo-head, imbedded in a self-dug

blasthole, congealed in earth for centuries.

Reptilian his look of never-needing-to-move.

You can't see him breathe. But the space about

his outline vibrates. Power like dust of mica

seems to swirl around his bulk.


Six chrome poles the paraplegic monster's

mounted on. The children stoop around those

legs, rumpus under the heavy belly, lay their

petal cheeks against harsh metal, and listen

for what might snort within. They pet and pat

the face that, here or there, might show an eye


or nostril about to bloom, or short thick

warted horn. Half his snout, distended like

a dragon's, has been filed flat, rubbed bright

as nickel, slick to stroking hands. This patch

of the beast's shag peeled, planed and flashing,

has worn out many tools.


Howling fire fattened to a roar when he fell,

fragment of a star, or lava Minotaur, gnarled

hide charred black, great clinker bounding

down from the fiery shore of Universe. Beast

not of this earth, beneath which children play

as Romulus and Remus trustfully suckled.


May Swenson