We’ve Been Around   (1972)

I was once a rock,

A drop of water,

A hickory shell,

A rose, a lemon tree,

A maple in New England,

A ball of cotton in Alabama.


I’ve been dust racing tumbleweeds

Across the Oklahoma flats

And settled in Arkansas;

An  acorn popping in the timber

Between the jaws of a razorback.


I’ve been rain-washed and mashed,

Windblown, sun-baked

And wood-burned.

I date back to the stooped

bastards of Adam, and beyond,

that sat in caves and hollow trees;

the sweat of enslaved temple builders.


I’ve been dead and living

In the sperm of a young pachyderm,

The crocodile egg,

The blade of a boomerang,

A chip from a stone of Easter Island.

I’ve traveled the sky in cirrus clouds

And in the birds’ wing,

Toured the oceans in the porpoise fin

and the crabs’ pincher.


I’ve watched the Mongols

Thunder across Manchuria

While standing in a blade of grass

And the Indian hunt bison

From the eyes of the prairie dog.

I’ve been in the brains of kings,

The hands of warriors,

The ink of the thinkers’ pen.


I’ve been every color and temperature,

Wet and dry.  Hard and soft;

And I have lived next to you

Somewhere, in something.

Maybe in the damp loam

Of redwood timbers

Or a leaf on the fish-spined fern.


You and I might have been

two sparks rising together

in a campfire

Or raced down a mountainside

As red melted rock.


Maybe you were in the other wing

Of the butterfly

And we touched when it rested.

Could it be that you were the pollen

That came to me with the bee-legs

And we made a flower

In the late spring-warm dirt?


Yes, we’ve been around

As timeless godlettes of life

Finding form and venture,

Fulfilling the grandest purpose

In a grand ol’ universe.


We may meet tomorrow;

And, when our hands touch,

Will I remember you?

Will you remember me?

Clay Howard

(An excerpt from the book ‘Loam of Leaves’)

(Note: This is also in mosaic print.)

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