Diane Hine

Silver Star - 4,143 Points (25 July 1956)

Mistaken - Poem by Diane Hine

Clenched in Snowball Earth's ice viced grip,
survivors hid, shunning sterile shores
and as eternal winter melted, drip by drip,
a forest stitched the silty oceans' floors.

Crinkled spindles and leafy globes open,
man-high, thumbnail thin, sentinel fronds.
Multicellular life, freshly woven,
modules linked and branched with fractal bonds.

Too dark, too deep, to be photosynthetic,
nutrients were gleaned through membranes fluted.
Strewn in an unseen ghostly aesthetic,
not plants but animals, static, rooted.

In places, Earth's belches and coughed ash
sank, killed, coated and cast still life tableaux.
Sediments weighted and imbued the cache,
layer on layer of time-locked plateaus.

Hundreds of millions of years rearranged Earth's wrinkles,
dipped or exposed, buckled crusty scabs.
Pink and white volcanic ash sprinkles
fleck glacier scrubbed pitched grey slabs.

Erosion exposes a false beginning,
fossils of creatures which nature scrapped.
Immobility jinxed their innings,
condemned as unable to adapt.

Minimal repetitive genetic commands,
holdfasts marked by circle and groove,
hint at no scope to meet the demands
of competitors, newly evolved to move.

Failed experiment thwarted by simplicity,
a ‘survival of the fittest' flashpoint.
Outcasts' remains with unknown affinity
on the sculpted rocks of Mistaken Point.

Perched above the Atlantic, fog-wrapped,
fractured cliffs concede a slant ledge outpost.
Raked by winter's storm waves, white-capped,
mariners thread rocks on a shipwreck coast.

'Seabirds on the port bow' the seaman bawled,
a sign of land near, though in truth his ears,
could hardly pick their shrieks from the howling squall.
The mate held their course, discounting his fears.

For hadn't they already rounded the Cape,
heading north for wide ocean, abrim with cod.
Guiding stars blinked through the fog's cold drape.
Watch over, the seaman slept slickered and shod.

But rocks slice schooners as schooners slice waves.
Before the unforgiving night finished,
the elements sent several poor men to sea graves
and swept two to a land ledge, diminished.

The mate and the seaman lay prone and spent,
shaken, grieving for those thought forsaken.
The wind dropped low to a moan, in lament,
the mate whispered 'seems I was mistaken'.

Their hands traced rock indents as some strange braille
and dawn's first horizontal rays,
struck reliefs which told a fossilized tale
of a wrong way course from Pre-Cambrian days.

By mid-morning, the mate and the seaman were found.
By noon, they'd been saved from their plight.
Hauled by hemp rope to the cliff top's safe ground
on a day when a rare sun shone bright.

While waiting for rescue, they'd lain on a page,
a fragment of Life's chronicles disjoint,
a glimpse of a flourishing singular stage,
on the sculpted rocks of Mistaken Point.

Comments about Mistaken by Diane Hine

  • Brian Jani (6/15/2014 5:42:00 PM)

    I.enjoyed this poem to the end (Report) Reply

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  • (10/10/2012 2:55:00 AM)

    Diane, this is superb. You are a fantastic lyric poet.. key word POET. you are one of the REAL ones alive today. continue your excellent work! !
    (Report) Reply

  • (8/27/2012 7:01:00 AM)

    A great sustained piece where the struggling ancient life and contemporary life meet fossil and flesh, ship and stone, blood and bone. Terrific! (Report) Reply

  • Valerie Dohren (8/27/2012 5:27:00 AM)

    Reminiscent of the Titanic story of how an iceberg which started life thousands of years ago was the cause of a more recent disaster. Great story here of epic proportions - amazing write. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, August 26, 2012

Poem Edited: Monday, August 27, 2012

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