Jenni Moody Wingspan It is a detail Laura realized she should have understood, but
truthfully, she did not think that all of the dinosaurs would be dead. Well, of course they would be dead, but she had not anticipated so many bones and how it would make her feel to stand among them. Laura wanted to look at the dinosaurs with her father, but one of the strollers got caught on the ramp. “Go on, I’ll be right there,” he said before bending down to work at the wheels. Laura stood in front of a stegosaurus, its head lowered as if to munch on some prehistoric grass. She closed her eyes and imagined the stegosaurus in her backyard at home, beneath the dogwoods. He snorted like the horse she rode once at a distant cousin’s farm. He stamped his foot on the ground and then rubbed his side against a tree. The nameless beast was gentle like the puppy she would beg her parents for when they return home, like the dog she would rescue many years later at the end of a long relationship. Standing across from the skeleton of the stegosaurus in the cold museum, Laura was sad for all of the dinosaurs all at once. At everything they lost—not just their lives, but each other. Her mother took a photograph of her staring at the large herbivore, and it is a photograph Laura returns to again and again as she grows up. It is in a plastic photo album her mother keeps in the hollow piano bench. In the photograph, Laura seems like a normal kid looking at the dinosaurs. Maybe a little more zoned out than others. But there is nothing in her posture, her arms slung over the rails, that reflects the sadness of the dinosaurs. And in particular, the pterodactyls. Perhaps in an effort to give a sense of flight to the remains, one giant pterosaur remained half-encased in stone. And somehow this was worse than all of the bare skeletons. “Laura, stand in front of the dinosaur,” her mother called to her, waving her into place. There was no barrier between her and the pterodactyl. If she leaned a little, she could reach out and touch it. Yesterday, she would have thought this was the opportunity of a lifetime. But instead she took a step forward, away from the sad skeleton, and only managed a bit of a smile when her mother prompted her.
Crab Orchard Review