in the knowing
oh great and silent earth,
keeper of stories,
mosser of bones
can you tell me what became of
the cedars of lebanon,
the vast emerald forests that held all of europe
with children laughing at their feet?
oh great and silent earth
i plead for witness to the ancient pain:
what bolt of lightning split my ancestors
from their good sense,
drove them to fear the seasons
and guard against them, anxiously,
by leaning on the seed?
what gave their hearts such a shaking
that their roots divorced the wild glades
and sought instead
oh dark and secret earth
please! let me into the mystery -
please: tell me, so i may tell the others,
how we got so lost in our very own land,
how we forsook the hunt and took up
how we came to be herders and
the tangled berries giving way
to shocking wheat,
how we labored, to bear famine;
who we sacrificed, to beg rain;
why we drove rickets into the bones
of our children and tore the land
out from under a wilderness who cradled our grandmothers' graves?
what put trembling in our prayers?
hunger on our tables?
a song of doubt on our tongues?
oh careworn broken earth
i am sorry that we have torn at your flesh
for an answer,
with canary and shovel,
with axe and torch,
forced ourselves into
between foreign ribs and intimate
in our search for it,
torn our own skin off,
burned ourselves at the stake,
thrown our children into the hungry sea,
our men to smoking fields
our women to pace raw in quiet chains
i am sorry that we have gone to every last island with our affliction
and in our desperate mission to transcend it
have passed it on
oh earth of every elemental power
why did you let your beauty be driven into the cracks
of even one lonely mountainside?
why did you give up your green dress to the blades
and the burning villages,
let the rocky sutures of your bones be opened
your rivers bloodied, then muddied, then damned?
in your body i feel the ripples of a great shouting
and is it the cry of death,
i don't know
is it the muddy throes, the last
ragged breaths, the deepest possible pain,
your spirit unearthing to depart on the poison winds
i don't know
but please! rend yourself of the secret
so that we both may survive it -
in the knowing.
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