November 2, 2023

Reluctant Earth

Flower within a flower,
whiter than frost, whiter than snow,

who dragged me here to Lethe…

I remember the autumn,
the summer, the fragrant boughs,

the fruit ripening, the day-butterfly,
my child’s prattling.

Banks of lichen broken-shale,
hill and hollow,

the flash in the heavens,
a glint of steel, a clang of metal—

then flames, flames--
smut-hounds, scavengers.

Smoke scent like dirty linen,
wind-stir: a long legato, solo moan--

Cross the charred portico,
cross through the door frame-less,

hurry down the steps gone-to-ruin--

You don’t have much time, don’t,
the nearest town is a journey--

None of it was planned
you never thought it would happen

but the earth became brittle, didn’t it--

rock-faced reluctant earth,
slackened with thirst.

The sensation of what-is-coming
in each tossed-up ember,

in how many thousands—

and who will record it,
and will it make any difference,

to talk about the soil
cracking dry like old powder,

to talk about the conifers,
the beetle-eaten conifers…

And the well, the old well,
redug deeper and deeper,

and the water for washing,
muddy and fetid…

Shall I tell about the antlered,
the feathered, the scaly,

(and some like thoughts dormant)..

If you rip the world open--
blind-mole, night-nurse,

and woman-faced owl,

what scattered-forms
in the barbed meadow,

in the ancestral canyons

will you nevermore see…      

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A Journal of International Poetry
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