This poem uses a personal reflection of delicate work on fossils to illustrate points about work, success, and life in general. It’s written from the author’s experience working on fossil field jackets – essentially big chunks of rock brought back from a dig site (read more field jackets here). Specifically, it’s about two field jackets of shale from western Kansas – you can read all about the Kansas digs here. Enjoy!
Chip, chip, chip one tiny bit at a time
The gray, dusty work inside
On frail, layered rock sublime
Is like the dry, cloudy day just outside.
Flakes fly when the chisel hits on the rock,
Look for fossils just below
Be so careful not to knock
Out of place a treasure that’s yet unknown.
Some work done with power tool buzz and grind,
Some with frigid hands all numb
Dry from winter air unkind
Yet the goal of noble work overcomes
The work is insipid yet very grand
Small, elusive fish scales shine
Pale chalk powders root strands*
But found no great fossil as rock’s refined
The end and beginning both were well known
And mystery lay between
But now empty rock is shown
With no more big fossils but those foreseen
Was the slow, cold labor all done in vain?
Were great fossils the sole aim?
Nay! The journey is all gain
It was a rare lesson to all who came
When our work is finished at end of day
Not task success or talent,
But those faithful who obey
That the greatest Master sees most gallant
Copyright Sara J. Bruegel, October 2015
*strands of plant roots, coated in a powdery chalk are often found between the layers of Kansas shale