From where I watch, there are no highest leaves,
no leaves that don’t have over them more leaves 
impeding what they open up and out for, 

darkening downward as they feed on green 
diminishments, as if dark, if it still
can darken, could be itself the light 

the darker leaves beneath are hungry for.
From where I watch even the shade hungers
And is hungered after—all along the chain 

past bark, root, leaf, ghost speck of leaf,     
microbial scrapings, and beyond them, flakes 
chipped off of flakes off of a now- 

no-longer anything sucked dry, unsifted 
and unsiftable into so fine a green 
even the dark shines through. What’s hunger but

a hole to fill, gravity of a self-
consuming self-proliferating blind
and densely tangled maze of this from that,

from this, somewhere inside of which a cry
for mercy isn’t heard, or is, and the jaws shut, 
and the very dirt becomes the dirt of it. 

Copyright © 2014 by Alan Shapiro. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on April 21, 2014. Browse the Poem-a-Day archive.