|Apr/May 2017 Poetry|
Photographic image © 2017 Stuart Gelzer
However imperfect an analogy,
the words arrived unquestioned.
What did I know of jewels
and their concealments,
hidden treasure, buried casques?
Or of jewels at all?
bent horseshoe nails,
the strings of beads
in my mother's dresser drawer.
Six years old,
sitting beside my mother
on a Florida beach
that, in memory, at least,
we had almost to ourselves,
I brushed the sand aside,
idly at first, then with dawning wonder
as my hands uncovered wonders;
curved and spiraled castaways,
sea's relics, unimagined marvels,
to be foraged, gathered, owned.
That bounty, long-since gone,
has left the words intact,
reminding me how poems begin,
disputed and attended to.
fossil evidence suggests,
may be forty million years
By contrast, we are ephemerae.
Were they aware of their history,
our presence here would seem weeks long
at most, a momentary bending of the grasses,
footsteps lighter than the thunderous paws
of reptiles who came and left so quickly.
(When was it? Not so long ago.)
They hovered, indifferent to our struggle
toward the shore, were there, preoccupied,
when we, at last, stood tall enough
to discover the horizon,
reveled in daylight when the first of us,
narrow-eyed in dimness,
scratched the outline of an antelope in flight.
Flood and ice, meteors,
mountains spouting fire,
the smallest and most fragile
dodged them all.
We are what we have always been,
a passing tremor in the wing,
displacement of surrounding air,
no more. Before we came, they fed
and multiplied, found flyways
to a younger sun, crossed a planet
undivided, still waiting to be named.