To chlorophyll, refineries, coal, furnaces beneath early skyscrapers, fossils

after Jane Hirshfield

by Caroline Kenworthy

Back then, what did I know?
The distance between moving cars I could turn into.
How far past EMPTY the engine would run.
 
I moved daily, rolling over poured rock,
traveling to learn. I was propelled by bodies
 
of organic matter. First, they were found.
Well, no. First, they were blue flowers carpeting a forest floor,
or the brown and hungry animal moving through them.
 
Then, they were found, pumped, sifted, melted, strained, 
boiled, strained again, divided. Then burned.
 
Funny to think that we didn’t know what coal was,
and then we did. From there— efficient refinement attracts
our kind— we made these bodies pourable. 
The dark rainbow and sharp whiff of petroleum.
 
I want to explain what I mean by bodies—
at first, I meant sentient movers. As if movement springs only from brains.
Then I thought, an organized, silent burning of sugars. I think, 
a system to translate the world into the self.
 
Life’s long inhale of nutrients, and longer, hotter exhalation in decay. Packed, still, silent.
 
Hard to remember that matter hums constantly.
These cars and highways— how much of moving is death rearranged.