by L. Norton


It was a rough landing. The body shuddered, the skin almost
shook loose, and we are only beginning to detect
the nearly invisible strains -- one at the joint riveting
heart to mind, another where the body joins the soul. Bone
weary, we raised the door, and could not
stop smiling -- we saw terraces of green where the mist
had lifted, saw creepers belting red rock, a river
thundering. We'd been sent as far as it was possible
to go. We thought we'd be hurled
out, along the way -- spin contextless, compelled
to shut our eyes forever, for fear of what we'd see. Here,
trees jostle like huge stands of broccoli. We will have to
learn all over again. We don't know the signs
of this green new world, and all of it now
could be important -- the sky could be gray
as the underside of an airplane, or even as the pale wool
knotting our sweaters. Looking back, we'll need
to weed out most of what we see now, describe it
to fit. And there will have to be a reckoning, for the mist
we see is from the crater we burned into the ground,
and already, we have changed things -- black
pebbles -- hidden for eons -- are tumbling down the hole. We
must begin describing because we will have to explain -why
we left, and how the burned and smoking hole
came to be there. It might begin thus: in
this holy place, we crawled like ghosts,
from the ground, where our ancestors had gone in a time of
great sadness. But our longing
became so sharp it burned a hole in the earth, and one day
we saw the green hills, the great braids of water hurtling
over rock. The sun's rays fell like bright shards of metal,
our faces shone like pale
moons, and yearning and delight so filled us
we could not speak, without using "like," or "as."


Poem copyright © 1995 L. Norton.


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