The Insects

I

Without a heart, they cannot break as we do.
And without dreams, they love the way that soil loves,
lacking enemies.
They are the warmth of movement in our decay.
But we are burdened by a thought and an image
that expires in a sad flame.
We are what they diligently tear and scatter
in an undergrowth of dead years,
our years,
awaiting the mouths of their relentless love.

II

I gather about me a moss of need,
sentiment, dream and craving.
Like the rock of afflicted mollusks,
I am a burden of sea, a salt trailed by wounds.
The clay of accumulated sorrow spoils my form.
But they are nature’s perfected coil,
the smooth and frightening form of life without remorse.
Everything else is unrequired.

III

I do not want a bone of song.
I no longer desire a midday loaded with light.
Beneath a country of moist leaves,
I seek transformation, like you,
to outlive the skeleton of my death,
to be a raw and glistening nerve under the moon.

IV

On a bitter leaf, I struggled from
a chrysalis of memory.
Everywhere, wings were blooming.

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Oak

The rain comes down upon my leaves

and my dry center

shrinks about my roots,

and all the insects and

lizards pull themselves

into the rough old folds

of my trunk.

I am the meaning of shelter,

refuge for all the harried,

striving things

when the world,

in her sullen rejecting mood,

shoves them beyond her

with palms of wind.

In my twisted and weary branches,

do you not see your own pain,

man?

Do you feel how the universe,

presses down upon us both,

that heavy eternity

which only wants to rest and cease:

and we both must carry

its thousand-fold, weeping moons.

Man, you forget me,

your original bearer,

and huddle instead

under the skin

of my dead brothers,

and dam up my streams,

so that the rain

might not touch you.

The waters beside me

fill with your discarded effort:

rusted bicycles,

journeys, detergent,

those things that

sustain you barely.

And each year

fewer and fewer insects

scuttle about my infinite trunk.

When they have taken

all their colours

and burrowed deep

beneath the earth, at last,

what then will I shelter,

what precious things will I keep?

Are we not both,

you and I, man,

perishing with the

things we are losing?

 

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014