Ellen LaFleche


We drive past the tar pits. Puddles of dead oil
boil. The smell sticks in my throat:
tar-trapped prey, bones petrified
to asphalt black.

Behind the diner,
Tyrannosaurus Rex rocks, ferocious teeth
hungry to eat the lunch-time crowd.

We follow three-toed tracks to our booth.
The waitress calls herself an old fossil,
digs a toy pterodactyl out of her pocket.

Josh orders the Brontosaurus Burger.
For me, the Pleistocene Pancakes -
there's a chocolate trilobite
hidden in the whole-wheat layers.
I use a plastic spork to trowel out the treasure.

My son knows the words extinction, Stegosaurus, paleontologist.

I teach him the word chemotherapy,
tell him about tomorrow, how
the nice nurse will bring him SpongeBob stickers,
a root beer lollipop.

Josh flings the pterodactyl under our booth.
I don't like lollipops. SpongeBob is for babies.

I pick up the pterodactyl. It's covered with dead
gum, and Pleistocene Burger crumbs.

Josh grabs it from my hand.
I hate the dinosaurs the most.
He drowns the creature
in his root-beer float.

*Previously published in She Asks for Slippers While Pointing at the Salt

Ellen LaFleche has published poems in Alehouse, Alligator Juniper, New Millenium Writings, the Ledge, Poetrysuperhighway.com., among many others. Her poem, JacObY, won second prize in the Paradise Poetry Contest for a poem about joy. The poem celebrates the joy brought to Boston fans by Jacoby Ellsbury, the first Navajo to play major league baseball.