Friday, 12 February 2016

This Quintessence of Dust

We didn’t start as we meant to go on,
Crawling on our bellies,
Through and in and round a never-ending patina of dust
That stared at us blindly, eye to eye,
And some days, it is true, it made us cry
And there was no authority could tell us why
Still at eye level the dust watched us
But at least it knew us as its fellow.

Yes, we left all that behind one day,
The day we first stood tall and first forgot
Our dustness; the day we eased our limbs upward
Inch by inch, a paragon of pride
That lorded it over every granule.
How much champagne we drank,
How the fatted calf was roasted,
How we thought that we had won –

Thought ourselves victorious against the maelstrom,
The lidless eyes of grit and lint,
The ashen hands that tug at the hem of your dress,
The anti-breath, ever sucking us down
And out towards its chasms,
Toward the soil we once loved to crawl in,
Pinning tin cans on weightless bodies
To spite our dreams of flying.

But all the while
We crumble and we flake – such shoddy pottery
As should long ago have been retired
To the back of the shelf, such craftsmanship
As will one day go back home,
Will lie down, a supine top layer in garden beds
Upon sooty, grandmotherly particulates.
And the vacuum claims us for its own.

Before then: so many ticks of the hour
When you wish you could be scaled down
Properly into the dust you are, wish you could dissolve,
So heavy are these aching dusty clusters.

Some days, too, it strikes you
That as lumpen charcoal goes
You are a colossus, are great as any demigod.
After all, was ever dust so warm, so bright, so being?
(Feb 2016)

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