Thank you for these tiny particles of ocean salt, pearl-necklace viruses, winged protozoans: for the infinite, intricate shapes of submicroscopic living things. For algae spores and fungus spores, bonded by vital mutual genetic cooperation, spreading their inseparable lives from equator to pole. My hand, my arm, make sweeping circles. Dust climbs the ladder of light. For this infernal, endless chore, for these eternal seeds of rain: Thank you. For dust.
Marilyn Nelson - 1946-
I have no answer to the blank inequity of a four-year-old dying of cancer. I saw her on TV and wept with my mouth full of meatloaf. I constantly flash on disasters now; red lights shout Warning. Danger. everywhere I look. I buckle him in, but what if a car with a grille like a sharkbite roared up out of the road? I feed him square meals, but what if the fist of his heart should simply fall open? I carried him safely as long as I could, but now he's a runaway on the dangerous highway. Warning. Danger. I've started to pray. But the dangerous highway curves through blue evenings when I hold his yielding hand and snip his minuscule nails with my vicious-looking scissors. I carry him around like an egg in a spoon, and I remember a porcelain fawn, a best friend's trust, my broken faith in myself. It's not my grace that keeps me erect as the sidewalk clatters downhill under my rollerskate wheels. Sometimes I lie awake troubled by this thought: It's not so simple to give a child birth; you also have to give it death, the jealous fairy's christening gift. I've always pictured my own death as a closed door, a black room, a breathless leap from the mountaintop with time to throw out my arms, lift my head, and see, in the instant my heart stops, a whole galaxy of blue. I imagined I'd forget, in the cessation of feeling, while the guilt of my lifetime floated away like a nylon nightgown, and that I'd fall into clean, fresh forgiveness. Ah, but the death I've given away is more mine than the one I've kept: from my hands the poisoned apple, from my bow the mistletoe dart. Then I think of Mama, her bountiful breasts. When I was a child, I really swear, Mama's kisses could heal. I remember her promise, and whisper it over my sweet son's sleep: When you float to the bottom, child, like a mote down a sunbeam, you'll see me from a trillion miles away: my eyes looking up to you, my arms outstretched for you like night.