A Lesson in Time
We stood on a forest road at the meadow’s edge
so Joe could teach the story of geologic time.
Mateo set a little flag—red tatter
on a rusted wire—to mark the miasmic
gathering when earth first clenched dust
by the stern affection we call gravity.
In the meadow, grass wavered, and was still.
Then Charles began to step off eons
through the Hadean Period, as low sun
lit the pines gold. We arrived at
the Iron Catastrophe. Mateo set a flag
and Ruby laid down a stem of grass.
Under a sky made blue by oxygen
bacteria had formed, once volcanism
spewed steam from burnt stone, we
marched on. At each extinction, or
new creation, Mateo set a flag
and Ruby placed her stem of grass,
until Joe pulled two hairs from
my head to set in the dust. “The thickness
of these two strands,” he said, “we’ll call
the span of civilization.” Mateo set a flag,
and Ruby placed a stem of grass.
Do You Need Anything from the Mountain?
Could you bring me a smudge of camas blue,
and the whisper whistle of that one pine
at the edge of the meadow at dusk, when day
gives a lost, last breath? Bring me the road
that becomes deep duff as it trails away
into the forest, young firs ten feet tall
along the hump between the old ruts.
Bring me a story you hear in dark silence
after the last light, the gone that gathers dew
in the fingers not to hold, carry away, but
only to feel. Bring me that skein of fire
that hangs in intimate eternity, after
the dark but before the thunder, when
the bounty of yearning in one cloud
reaches toward another, in each being’s
endless, impossible desire to complete itself
before falling away.
Photo of wet leaf on forest road courtesy Shutterstock.