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Matthew PortoMarch 31, 2022

The whole of creation’s drama before me:
the wheel and what turns it,
starlight on turned soil, stones clenched in riverbeds,
crystal, pines that reach the road
wrapping the mountain, a serpent
waiting for twitchy prey beneath a cedar.

What man has made now makes him
I follow my first human thought like a scent.


I find the patriarch at the shore, where the ocean
offers up an endless sacrifice of shoal,
shell, and seaweed—the sand takes
the press of the struggle, whirls at each wing-beat;
he bleeds at the forearm and knee;
his soft flesh purples below the jaw from a chokehold.


Bright dust falls from my feathers
as the present pours into the eyes of
contender and contender, leveled in exhaustion—
we straddle sand, hands on hips,
heads bowed to pelvis, lapping air.
Crab-shadow, shadow of dune
there at the sea’s altar, the littoral,
where even sunlight rests….


Collecting myself, I take off
for the empyrean. Below,
every laughing, hulking thing
shoulders the wheel; road swallows mountain—
starlight, pines, all.
Israel, I named him:
the one who believes all that is
is God’s, and fights it anyway—

my last human thought before the world vanishes.

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