Fording the oxbow, early in the afternoon
A bluegreen witch’s cauldron in the earth
waist high, all swirling, shimmering
Swarms of insects overhead, out of Exodus
Yards to the respite of the island
A broad pebble beach without an inland
Where time unspools itself like the
roots snaking through the scattered stones
Whose heads trail off into the water
Where the ground is littered with fossils-it’s like
Finding sand in the Sahara
Bend down:- a horn coral?
Or the petrified fang of a monster now sleeping?
Brachiopod?- or a little geisha fan
substituting stone for silk?
And in the center of the island, where the rapids can be heard
making their angry course- a conglomerate slab of
Shells, sponge impressions, a paused movie about an ocean bed,
Is lying, for the taking, under the bough
of white birch arms colored like an ossuary
It’s heavy, but with two hands, one could lift it, and
Groaning, cross the oxbow again and use it as a mantelpiece
Like an antique dictionary of life with an ornate cover-
Or a funerary urn for all those sea lilies.
Yes- it would even be easy with two sets of arms,
But you, in admiration of your own stillness
might also think, back against the tree trunk,
Whether, at 400 eons,
It has really had a long enough rest to justify disturbing it