Ode to Earth

Shari Kocher

 

In her speaking she returns to us and I,

with my Not-I awake, and going about my day,

walk with Earth behind my lids, two by two,

and breathing thus, she holds us by the feet.

Today, between the work of marking

someone else’s words and the turning

of vegetables to bread, Earth took me out

and placed me in one resistless sweep

deep beneath her shining, whose lips on mine

she parts the shine and spins the Not-I surface

calm and sleek. There she holds and there

she takes a parting of the ways I cannot

name it. Though I crave it, the ten thousand

ways she tastes, unspooling Byzantium between

my ribs, her soft camel lashes brush the knap

of the Not-I that soars unmade in me

and wings me back to hearth beneath

a younger Earth snapped open: a whale’s

pelvis rocking the deep beneath the desert

un-sea-ed in me, the not-mine

taking me thoroughly in pieces with it:

charcoal, date-seed, ash and silicon,

the dunes with their kelp and nautilus,

potassium, all the spinning glow worms

unseen for centuries, curled in torchlight, whose

good wood burns great sliding prints on damp

cave walls chanting the riverborn heartsnake

welling upwards: the ten by ten

by thousand-year ice in rock and sand,

the windstorm in my rib-bones untangling

the tendrils of this beetroot’s roots, the slim

carrots and the parsley rinsed under a rustling

tap, whose pouring on my fingers is rain! rain!

stored and steeped in sweetness, that unmistakeable

skyspeech swinging through the water barrel: hello

Earth again, here we are getting on with dinner

ten thousand light years later in less than half a day.

Smoke rises through the roof you grew in patience,

holding your softness out, wanting us

to love you, wanting us to love

your night touch turning your breath diaphanous,

oh yes, the way the not-I draws upright to meet you

as water draws such thirst from stars they pour

your breathing hands upon our feet.

 

 

Shari Kocher is the author of The Non-Sequitur of Snow (Puncher & Wattmann 2015), which was Highly Commended in the 2015 Anne Elder Awards. Recent accolades also include The Venie Holmgren Poetry Prize (2018), The University of Canberra Health Poetry Prize (2016) and runner-up in the Newcastle Poetry Prize (2017 & 2015).

‘Ode to Earth’ won the 2018 Venie Holmgren Poetry Prize.

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