EARTH IS WHERE


Where strangers have tried to remove the mote
from my eye, where I shouted them
down. Where pearls have been found
among swine, blossoms in the muzzles
of big guns. Babies are tossed here
into dumpsters and there are good laws
about certain feathers you cannot possess.
We could do with less possession. To
divest ourselves of sharp-edged stocks, of vests
and vestments. Not like trading papal chic
for black pajamas—can't there be a feeling of we
without uniforms: in our skin—dangerous
idea—in our sinews? Instead of his share
of milk and honey, a Jew today—
unthinkable—took his leader's life. Every-
where this sickness, killing not
just each other but our own: in the belly
of the great whale of a time we had
last night, in pissy hallways and nuclear
split-levels alike. How many vigils
for our ventral earth, where whole or in bits
we will be buried. Time to practice:
today silence, and tomorrow let us try
cupping something that can't
be bought or fought over—a flame, a face,
someone's first tear for another (tears,
the specialty of the species), for here we lie,
with or without our lies, so gathered.

© 2001 Ellen Watson
published in Poetry Northwest (Spring 2001)

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