Dear Smithsonian Museum Lost and Found

You have found so many things lost,
fragments of stories,
like the bones of sea monsters found off the coast of Angola,
a mosasaur containing non-digested bones of another mosasaur,
nine feet of soft-tentacled squid suspended in jelly,
and a partially re-crystallized pock-faced meteorite discovered
in Goose Lake
below the detritus and decaying bodies
of geese with fish bones in their stomachs.

If you could just let us know, when taking a break
from finding ancient and important stuff,
if you find a thing lost that is of value
to my six-year-old daughter:
a pink (despite my efforts) purse
a pouf for fake blush,
a four-colored pen
and a sketchbook with a purple
outline of a mastodon,
the artifacts of a burgeoning
childhood from the twenty-first century,
We would be so grateful.



Click here to read Lisa Park's compositional note.

Image: photo by Alejandro Barba on Unsplash, licensed under CC 2.0.

Lisa Park:

My daughter, son and I visited the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History one wintry school holiday. With my daughter’s mind filled with precious gems, dinosaur bones and deep sea creatures, she lost her latest favorite toy, a pretend purse, somewhere in the museum. When we got home, I submitted a form online to the Lost and Found, not expecting any response from a museum with 3.9 million visits annually. Then again, the Smithsonian is the pinnacle of Lost and Founds- they go to the ends of the earth to recover precious or rare fragments of our past. After about a week, I received not one, but two emails expressing regrets for not finding my daughter’s toy purse from Mr. Clifford at the Smithsonian. Now I have those emails and this poem to remember this moment from my daughter’s childhood.

Lisa Park
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