Thursday, December 11, 2008

History Lesson

I stand at the apex of a bridge
Waiting, as I always do, for your flat smile
To take me down to sea level
At the bottom, Manhattan floats like
An empty egg
The yolk long since washed away
The nutrients of life buried in the brine
Of the Hudson River
The shell, a resting place for the
Microcosm of barnacles and brachiopods
The bottom-feeders and hangers-on

Neighboring islands rest in the same
Stasis, idly unaware of their status
As platforms for parasites and symbiotes
Each one, a mirror image of the other

Before they were detached from The Body
A single mass of granite stretched forever
With a giant ocean at the center
Molten rock and cooling lava
Transformed into basalt wastelands
Waiting, as I am now, open and ready
For the borers, the diggers, the chemical-makers
To emerge from infant air
The toddlers of the planet
Fumbling over their purpose
Forgetting their baby steps and
Going straight to adolescence

The great infestation gave way to the
Ones that crawled,
Dug themselves out of the stew
Set claws on cold ground and
Pollinated virgin soil

The experiments of nature took their turn
Each attempting the final success, each failing
To survive meteoric upheaval -
Bony wings gave rise to fur
Variations of every shape and size
The bipedals succeeded at last
As continents, freshly split and ripening,
Continued their steady cycling

The form was always malleable
Feet for clinging became flat for running
Across plains and ash fields
Brains grew and consciousness emerged
Pulling metal from the elements
Fire from dry wood
Sod houses from dung heaps
Skyscrapers from concrete

When I set foot on level ground
I find you, enormous eyes without light
I turn back and see the spires of
Manhattan Bridge
Fading in swiftly-moving twilight
I wonder whose hands crafted steel into
These obtrusive forms

I am surrounded by the fragile results of
Time's great experiment
Age will topple these, as well
And they will sink slowly,
A hollow, sodden city
Artificial future residence of
Evolution's best survivors

-GSS 1/04

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