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How to Build the Alps

How to Build the Alps
Rachael Mead

It all begins with stone.
Heat. Pressure. Formation.
Each layer spreading its fresh sheet
over the one below. Foliation is such
an organic word for orogeny.
This was back before flowers.
When words seemed tiny.
Moss. Fern. Spore.
Only fifty million years until
things grew to picture-book size.
Plateosaurus. Ticinosuchus. Ceresiosaurus
Then the extinction. The one before this. Before now.
Bivalves, gastropods and brachiopods don’t fare so well.
Diversion. Deformation. Laurasia and Gondwana part ways.
Waters obey physics and Tethys, the Mother of Oceans is born.
Orogenesis. Compression. The Alps have nowhere to go but up. 
It sounds sudden, but all the while, flowers are working
the kinks out of pollination. Dinosaurs grow
feathers and a love of wind. Around
here, when you start tunnelling you
find more than grottos of red limestone 
or quarries of black shale. Dig deep enough
and you’ll find the scaffold of everything.
The pieces that fit together into something 
complicated and profound. Fragments
of colour and shape that you can slowly,
painstakingly, with trial and luck, 
piece together into water, into sky, 
into grass. Memory and desire.
History and perspective.
Ourselves.