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.