A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
Children, if I told you I’d teach you
everything you need to know,
would you know to be suspicious?
Take this pebble here. One, you say,
of many. All mere chips of boulders,
once jagged, now polished
in the tumbler of tide-churned sand.
Good. Yet I will teach you
which to lift from the multitude
along the shore, how to close your eyes
and assess this particular pebble’s
cool weight in your palm,
the diameter of its smoothness,
the course it traveled over the seabed,
what will happen if you take it home.
How its jewel glint will dull as it dries.
How your fingers will rediscover it
in the linty depths of a pocket
and how you will wonder why
this lump mattered enough
to carry it so far. How perhaps,
even still, it will recall to you
the array of scattered stones,
the fanning waves, the granular sands,
wet, then dry, on your unshod feet,
the seal heads popping up,
the sweep of cloudless sky.
How you stood there,
among the wheeling seabirds,
and grasped momentarily
how time moves and stands still,
how you are as broad as the universe
and as minuscule, as fragile,
as the fractured, discarded shells,
half-buried in the shifting hillocks,
which could cut your mortal sole.
How you too are one dull chip
off the old block of primal matter
among countless strewn millions
tumbled and worn by tides,
yet you too are matchless
when gleaming. That’s what
this lesson can teach you.
Ready? Open your book.
Copyright 2020 Judith Sanders