All That Life

1. All that life: from first rank beginnings in the earth,
something stirred in matter; there emerged a drive
to animate the dirt – Surprise! – a brief ellipse called
life the breath arrived, then came the certain slide

back to sludge. A trick, endlessly repeated. Generations rise,
act, expire. The mud is packed with death. Again, the new
recurs: hopeful twigs root the sky, quick fish swarm beneath
swirls of birds migrating to merge with landscape. None

can escape the loop. Sprigs and wriggling nematodes
lift inspired shapes to glance above the mulch derived
from those who went before then die Layers of
life rest limp and crushed beneath the holy stone of time,

hidden from the spinning crazy round of sun and moon,
and left fermenting inside the warm barrel of the earth.

2. All that pain: the bloody, hacked-off limbs of war; those injuries
a lover’s heart sustains. Lives stocked with hardened grudge
or slow-cooked revenge. The bludgeon of recurrent thought,
or fuzz of the drug-smudged brain. The push towards

those things we love, and would not lose: an early lily, lush
in bloom; brass ensembles filling sun-bronzed rooms; a child
immersed, creating nests away from harm in long bush grass.
All this richness soon will pass, be lost, is already past, has gone.

The screw rotates again; with each turn the living thread goes
underground. All vital cells, all life’s vast loveliness, and all vile
anguish, is delivered back to silence, to rot, to fertilize the next
round of intrepid roots and sprouts, fiery heart- and limb-buds.

Sometimes, the aftermath of life sinks deeper into soil; lakes of slow
decay compose thick cuds of sleep and the dark prayer of oil.

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Books by Dawn Garisch