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Michelle Boisseau

09-20-2010

A Sunday in God-Years

Like someone trying to nap in a room
with a glaring terrarium
God rolls over
but before he resumes his dream
where he’s a lover
decked out in a sunbeam,
he glances at the blue planet
he made, at continents crashing
and mountains popping up, at sheets of dirt
settling in streams and streams
settling in oceans that slide back
like bedcovers and after stacks
of pressing epochs give birth

in an outcrop to this ragged chunk
of limestone.  I plucked it
from a wall fading into the woods
of Northern Kentucky.
Ordovician, half a billion years old.
It was the common rock of my childhood,
what we pried from yards and pulled
from creeks to flush out crawdads
scuttling beneath.  That’s an hour’s drive
and forty years ago, on the north side
of the Ohio. River Jordan. Promised Land.
Fine heft, a good fit to my hand,
the rock’s finger notches are the curves
of river bends on a map–it’s shaped
like Kentucky–and here’s the turn
the river takes, wade
in the water
, on its way

north from Maysville, here a cove
where a runaway could hide–
her child slung in a shawl–studying the floes
until the moon set and she could plunge
across the bobbing ice
to board, sweet chariot, the train of trudging–
corn fields, torches, disquieting towns, huddling
in root cellars by day, then in the hull
of a midnight boat slipping across Lake
Erie.  The rock I slid from the wall
was stacked here by a slave.  And slaves
felled trees, broke sod, and cut the stone
for foundations they couldn’t own.

Up on the ancient hill the grand old house
they built is solitary now.
The clutter of shacks for those who worked
sun and snow, day and night
have long been erased as eyesores
although the played-out double wides
along the road tell a revised story.
And as for me, a middle-aged white
woman, I didn’t have to care
who’d notice me helping myself
to these grainy eons, plunder
imbedded with the trails and shells
of creatures seen by no eye although carelessly
glanced long ago through warm shallow
seas by a younger sun.
 
 

                      -from A Sunday in God-Years



 

  

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