Ge(ne)ology found its start in a tent during a September snowstorm in Southcentral Alaska several years ago. My daughter, Eowyn Ivey, and I had been flown by a 4-seater Cessna 185 into a remote area for a few days of camping and fossil hunting. We hiked and searched for fossils along Ammonite Creek the first day and found, in the creekbed, some rocks imprinted with small brachiopods. Eowyn says finding fossils is like blueberry picking – you’re walking along and see none, and then your vision shifts and they are everywhere.
That night when I closed my eyes, I could only see rocks with fossils, the sensation strangely like that of floating in bed after a long day swimming. Outside the tent it was a whiteout and we could hear the wind and snow.
Plane unable to fly in and trapped for a few extra days in inclement weather, we mostly stayed in the tent. We burrowed into our sleeping bags for warmth, read, wrote, and read out loud to each other to make our books last longer.
The title for the poem came later, as I struggled with something like “Geology/Genealogy.” I was caught by the sense of their similarity in sound and also how they both have an aspect of study and of time. I was finishing up my MFA at Antioch University, L.A. and when my poetry mentor, Jenny Factor, suggested the current “Ge(ne)ology,” I thought it was the perfect title, one that I am sure I wouldn’t have found on my own. I love how the “(ne)” is wrapped in the parentheses, just like a fossil within a rock."