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Digging Zak's Grave
These hands crusted with dark
red soil have reached back
seven million years in a stroke
of spade. They also touch
yesterdays fallen leaves,
the mulch of a dozen years
of fruits and vegetables,
and this afternoon's loss.
Time means nothing we can
grasp till it is converted
to memory. Now, drenched
in sweat, I am stained by
what remains of Columbia River
lavas that covered this hill
in Miocene times. If rain
and snow can do such slow
work on rock, they will have no
trouble with the body I am
about to consign to this hole.
-- Floyd Skloot

Drained Lake, Heron In Mud
When I saw the heron standing up to its spindleshins in mud
where the lake's deep water yesterday caught the light
and cracked it into a scatter of small flames, each fragment
of fractured mirror gripping a coloured shard of sky or leaf
or the glancing glimpse of a wing flapping over (taupe
for a goose, stony bluegrey a heron, various shades of white
the gulls), when I saw this statued heron, light burning its beak
to an aluminum triangle, a tapered hammerhead of glass,
it could have been the sign I was searching for: a solitary creature
dealing with this unsettled set of fresh conditions, not stuck
in the mud but surrounded by it, trying to draw something
to live by from it, some surprise live morsel that would make
survival possible. So I walked the bank and looked at it
from every angle, hoping to winkle a hint or two to help
shed any ray of light on things. But it just stood hunched,
ruffling once, twice, its shoulder feathers, the gleam of its beak
flashing back unreadable semaphore. I imagined its keen eyes'
amber, their fixed gaze, and that it was not at ease, but patient.
-- Eamon Grennan

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OnEarth. Spring 2007
Copyright 2007 by the Natural Resources Defense Council