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
Ten 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.
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.