Nakhla

Perhaps it begins in Egypt, heralded
by thunderbolts: things

that fall from the sky always have meaning.
Tang of scorched flesh, fur.

Fear. A farmer points to the spot
where his dog was just standing,

howling perhaps at Unkind Fate,
which leaves no trace of him –

not even a bone to bury him by.
Perhaps it begins millions

of years ago, time of soft-bodied
creatures, jellyfish, worms,

time when a planet’s passions cool,
harden to stone. Time

when shells accrete, when trilobites
scissor free from pouches,

when a cousin of the nautilus
first fuses tentacles

to spadix, passes sperm to the female
during lazy, day-long

couplings in a gentle sea.
Perhaps it begins on Mars

as magma cools itself to crystal,
when water splits that crystal,

veins the cracks with carbonate.
Perhaps it begins when

an unknown force slams into Mars,
blasting that rock out

into space.
xxxxxxxxxTen million years go by:
oceans fall, mountains

rise, and “Lucy” Australopithicus
chooses her mate. Now

we come to Egypt; a farmer whistles
for his dog. At this moment

twenty-two pounds of Martian rock
shriek overhead, shatter

in fire above the Nile. Proof –
if any’s needed – that what’s

essential to both blood and bone
travels the planets: calcium,

iron, magnesium, silver
elements that stiffen

shell and skeleton, that bind
and carry oxygen,

that transmit sense from nerve to straining
nerve – pulse and gasp,

ebb and flow, rhythm of
two human hearts.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxPerhaps

it begins this instant as I lay
my body over yours,

bone rocking bone, tooth skimming skin,
night sky of summer exploding

above us. Silvery-white, malleable:
stars figure your face.