We gave our dogs a button to sniff, or a tissue, and they bounded off confident in their training, in the power of their senses to re-create the body, but after eighteen hours in rubble where even steel was pulverized they curled on themselves and stared up at us and in their soft huge eyes we saw mirrored the longing for death: then we had to beg a stranger to be a victim and crouch behind a girder, and let the dogs discover him and tug him proudly, with suppressed yaps, back to Command and the rows of empty triage tables. But who will hide from us? Who will keep digging for us here in the cloud of ashes?
D. Nurkse - 1949-
The Summer of Reconciliation
1 They’re happy but don’t know it. They think they’re bored and hate each other. The other has forgotten the hammer and must pound each triangular tent peg with a damp stone that has a smooth underside but no flat plane, and here the earth is granite or friable lichen. The whoosh could be a horsefly, rain, or a powerboat. They make love, and each gasps politely, each feels that fat cloud is me, that drilled acorn was me, but this person holding me is strange, withholding as time itself. 2 At sunset the island lights up: a firefly, a Coleman lamp, a bed of coals. It’s there they will learn to be travelers, there where the flies know they are loud, the hidden spring is aware of being cold. They will get there by the teak rowboat, worn almost to a thought, the gunwale splaying, the strake shipping bilge and drowned lunar moths, the old dog in the prow, watching through cataracts. Beach with me on mica, in the tannin-dark inlet. 3 No, there is nothing here, a wisp of tarred rope, a smashed teal egg, paths that lead to each other, so you might walk to Quarry Cove and find only quartz. But here the night makes its own darkness. Like lake water, or the spine of a moss-green book, our marriage closes over us.