Taken in. Including all It’s not but may anticipate
Or imagine. Including drag Its belly; including perform
A hundred push-ups on a rock And sun shining, all in
A day’s work, and Curling up at day’s end into
A ball of self, under a leaf Or thicket of softest green,
Waking again noticing The sun has risen, not
Another day keeps Coming up new, going by.
for biologist Phyllis Coley
1. It works its way through the canopy. Leaf by leaf, it ruminates On what its body makes. Trees chew over News and light, muttering, but the leaf
Can’t escape. If it thinks, it imagines Being chewed apart, dismember- ment enacted, routine. How to shrug it off, How repel. Above deep shade emanates
Blue and dazzle, but neither Leaf nor worm knows a thing about Light’s scattering—or do they?—or that
When I take to the tops of trees I want to fly but fall. Beneath, They occupy themselves: a worm, the leaf
2. It consumes in time. Why should they Be different than we are in this way, Each selved, absorbed, at work. The worm might Turn into a metaphor for whatever
Grows and eats, whatever rustles, And fights the other off, or fails, but It remains a worm, stubborn. Metaphor Extends itself or sticks it to us
While we grieve the body, our minds Consumed with it. We feed Ourselves, on ourselves. This morning And every morning I clean my teeth,
Preparing them, failing, becoming Already part of the feast.
Katharine Coles’s new collection of essays, The Stranger I Become: On Walking, Looking, and Writing, will be published by Turtle Point Press in May 2021. She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of English at the University of Utah.