What We Were Given We Did Not Know
for Marvin Bell
Once the thing is inside you, you can travel
with the ash-coloured leaves awhile,
and sip the dark pools in passing
without fear of homesickness or thirst.
Absorption is gradual, as the clay-mud knows,
though once the platelets are convinced,
it will swim through the dark capillaries,
seeking the nuclear light of an innermost self.
So you become by shedding a once-useful coat,
and lying beneath a moon that was always close,
the in-breath a foregone conclusion of the out —
and each thought predetermined by the last.
Sure, one foot can listen to another in snow,
while wind in the desert erases even tiny success,
and since backward has become the new forward,
even the willow must lift up its arms to dance.
Praise the tiny capsule of shelter, belonging
to the arthropod, praise the hull we plane
to take the waves face-on and smother back.
Our beginning was there, in the energetic foam.
Now we have learned of buoyancy, and heft
our small belongings with us place to place,
while the blood rushing by our eardrum protests,
and gravel mutters under our restless boots.