Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Third Rock from the Sun

That streetlight looks like the slicked backbone
            of a dead tree in the rain, its green lamp blazing
like the first neon fig glowing in the first garden
            on a continent that split away from Africa
from which floated away Brazil. Why are we not
            more amazed by the constellations, all those flung
stars held together by the thinnest filaments
            of our evolved, image making brains. For instance,
here we are in the middle of another Autumn,
            plummeting through a universe that made us
from its shattering and dust, stooping
            now to pluck an orange leaf from the sidewalk,
a small veined hand we hold in an open palm
            as we walk through the park on a weekend we
invented so we would have time to spare. Time,
            another idea we devised so the days would have
an epilogue, precise, unwavering, a pendulum
            strung above our heads.  When was the sun
enough? The moon with its diminishing face?
            The sea with its nets of fish? The meadow’s
yellow baskets of grain? If I was in charge
            I’d say leave them there on their backs
in the grass, wondering, eating berries
            and rolling toward each other’s naked bodies
for warmth, for something we’ve yet to name,
            when the leaves were turning colors in their dying
and we didn’t know why, or that they would return,
            bud and green. One of a billion
small miracles. This planet will again be stone.

Credit


Copyright © 2019 by Dorianne Laux. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


“This poem came through an exercise: a jumble of words, objects, a borrowed phrase. It's an old theme for me: How did we come to be, how can we remind ourselves each day that being itself is a miracle, that all is finite. The form came as five-line stanzas, with a return to the title completing the final stanza.”
—Dorianne Laux

Author


Dorianne Laux

The author of several collections of poetry, Dorianne Laux was the recipient of the Oregon Book Award and a finalist for the National Books Critics Circle Award for her book Facts About the Moon. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2020.

Date Published: 2019-07-10

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/third-rock-sun