The Petrified Forest of Backward Metaphors

I didn't steal these from the hills; they were in a cabinet in my studio.

Hiking in the 1000 acre hills behind Jentel, Robyn (another resident) and I found pieces of petrified wood, which look like wood, but feel like stone. Some even have geode-like crystals on them if you look closely. They’re very deceiving. Because these look like wood, with a tawny coloring and visible wood grain, I picked them up expecting them to be light and brittle. Each time I picked up a piece, the weight it held was a surprise. It was a bit surreal, finding all of this wood on top of a treeless hill. After doing some research, Robyn informed me that those pieces of wood, if they actually surfaced there naturally, are probably close to 60 million years old. I’ve been trying to think of various metaphors for petrified wood and petrified forests (which, according to the internet, contain no standing trees, but instead look like deserts upon which old (petrified) logs have washed up like flotsam from another geologic era)–or rather, various things for which petrified wood can be a metaphor. It’s a backward metaphor. Immediately, I thought of memory, but maybe that’s too easy. I suppose there’s a way to do it right, but I’m trying to think of others. So far:

(1. Memory)

2. childhood/past eras of one’s life (so, memory, pretty much)

3. amnesia (suppressed memories?)

4. generation gaps

5. outdated technology (too easy?) In any case, I would like to walk through a field of fossilized Walkmans and VCRs, but I think that’s been done, in The Brave Little Toaster.

6. toys or keepsakes from one’s past

7. estranged family

These are really all falling into the same box, and I may be failing as a poet here. Feel free to share your thoughts/factoids about petrified wood (this is bound to be my most popular blog post ever). It’s my current point of interest. Perhaps I should visit a petrified forest myself. Anybody want to go?

Also, there are rocks up there that have lichen growing on them, but the lichen is red and orange. It looks just like rust, which was also a bit surreal to see in an area so untouched by industrial plants.

rusty lichen

Also, the creeks and rivers around here are rising so much that the National Guard is on call or something. It’s still raining. Maybe tomorrow is the end of days. Incidentally, I’ve been writing post-apocalytptic poetry. Yes, really.


4 thoughts on “The Petrified Forest of Backward Metaphors

  1. clsguppy

    wow. i am wondering if the rusty lichen has a place in The Rusted City (which I would still like a copy of, please).

    and i’m wondering about a conversation i had earlier today about love, how we try to hold onto a certain image of love. but love is alive, like a tree. it grows and changes. to “petrify” it by insisting that it has to look or behave a certain way, is to change it into something else, something no longer living, a fossilized remain of life, but not life.

    after seven years of marriage, i am realizing that both brian and i are different people now from the two who married each other. different, even, from the two who moved here to north carolina together. and we are having to navigate some tricky ground, and essentially re-marry each other as we are now. it used to strike me as a cliched excuse to hear couples say that they “grew apart.” but i can see, now, how easy it is to let that happen. we can’t, ever, go on with “business as usual.” there is no “usual” in real life.

    to make a commitment to the wood, the tree, is to constantly walk unguarded into the unknown. and it’s a commitment we have to make over and over again, so as not to petrify ourselves or the people we love.

    just some thoughts….

    xo, c

    1. rahurt Post author

      so interesting, and true. it seems, sometimes, that one has a tendency to enter a relationship or commitment without the understanding that it will change, that both people involved will change, and that such change doesn’t always mean the end. thanks for reading my blog, friend!

  2. Beth

    This may be trite, but I thought of photographs and the way they freeze a moment, how that image cannot be changed by faulty memory or wishful thinking once it’s been captured on film. Sometimes you can’t be sure if you actually remember that event or just the photograph of it.

    1. rahurt Post author

      That’s not trite at all–I like that idea, and in fact, I have a bunch of old photographs spread out on my desk right now. I’ve been trying to work with them, so that fits nicely–especially the difference between memory and reality.


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