By Dom Bury


Plough — anvil — loom. As yet few
noticeable tremors. As yet nothing is lost
permanently, merely transformed into something useable.
Old wood becomes ships that still answer
to foul weather. Old stone, resurrected
becomes shelter, temple, raised effigy.
Though not yet to a God that would eat the heart
right out of you but one that still fears
rising water, black marks over the sun,
sudden — uncontrollable — fever.


Wilderness as echo. Wilderness as porn, wildness
as something repressed so that what was once felt
ravine deep in the body calcifies
into harder gods. God of iron, steel, God of smoke
without fire — God sold to empty the country
into the city’s gaping mouth—
human wreckage — human kindling —
anything to keep the forges burning eyeball white.


Yet still, for now only minor visible ructions —
fish upturned in rivers, cattle refusing
to ovulate, tuberculosis, cholera, rain
still something still to be dashed through.
For now autumn moves into winter as smoothly as a row
of emperor penguins sliding into the sea.
For now the geese, moving high up through
the cold clean air still find their way home again.


New signs come — depression — cancer —
whole races turning their knives in on each other,
whole peoples cut away from the sky and the stars
and the damn soft soil that birthed them,
that is them, their flesh, their bones, their bodies
no longer wondered at as earth, as everything,
but seen solely as vehicles to carry them,
us, everyone to our next blunt fix.


The alarm bells of the planet reach fever pitch —
Covid — collective existential crisis — collapse,
our cities no longer able to withstand foul weather, our nations on fire, the earth attempting to kill
what is killing it, to avoid the canvas
of this green miraculous earth disintegrating,
thread by thread, thrush by thrush,
human body by human body.


This was the only way it could have been —
our own extinction held up to offer
a small window shaken ajar at midnight,
for us to witness these charred fields
and begin to feel, something,
anything again,
to understand how each cut into the earth
is a cut into our own soft skin.


In the compressed heat of this late age,
the soul of the world begins to emerge again,
timid at first after ten thousand years of crucifixion,
of being burnt alive for the simple crime
of sounding the raw wild note of love
over and over, for daring to say, look,
between the ash and the wide open cosmos
there is still magic here!


So the world breaks apart
to break us open
to the subtle miracle of living,
to come back to the mystery of these hands
folding over themselves,
to feel the wild tingling in us
and the last woods whispering —
soon there will be glades, great elk, grace again.


Old things awaken far out on the permafrost.
New fires, hidden in the high woods
flare on one by one again to warm a little meagre food.
And slowly, we begin to recall what we had forgotten,
to sense, in the marrow of the earth God again,
though God not as this far off deity
sat on his golden throne
but God as life, as you, as me, as everything.


All of this. All of this! To finally remember
the deep dark of the earth alive in us again,
the thrumming tuning fork
of our bodies ecstatic as wave spray,
sudden phosphorescence, to remember
how the stars and the moon move us —
hung in the sky over the still lake,
below a mountain filled with fresh snow.

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