A Poem

posted February 24, 2009

Nothing Lasts

Only the land lasts, not you.
Only your steps upon it, the cut
glass of memory and your smile within
it survives. Only the land lasts; simple rock
and the dumb scape of lusting lack,
the rack and pinion of flight and fall.
Autumn doesn’t last. Not spring
with all its fine tithings. Not the shine
of those young girls’ hair, not the waists
of women, not the fading fire. Not you
and the way we were. Only the land
lasts, and the ridges of waiting wearing
out the pursed lips of furrowed ranges,
and not the cold within their lair. Only
the stunned shale, the red-faced cliffs,
the heights where someone sometime ascended
and stood, and loved, the land layering there
laid out out in its full affair, the glinting
mica and dream of hard brooding diamonds,
all the hidden glory, the unseen flake
of gold and petrified burl. Not this
hand stroking life into an empty palm,
the smooth skin of summer, the sudden
skim of a wayward glance. Nothing of you
or the lonelier retreat of other
killer mammals and their heat.
Nothing lasts but the land, not the water
or the tearing, not the creeks and the clearings,
not the withered heart nor the soiled clothing
of social graces, nor the mouthy flaring
of wondered disgrace. Nothing lasts of this house,
not the boards nor the worms nor the birds. Not
the words I use to slow it down and make it stick.
Nothing lasts like the red clouds on the day
of your passing, the wicked gassing
or the olvido. Nothing lasts but this sand
drained of your sea; this chiseled frown
in the chipped flint, this skirting of canyon,
this flaw and filing, this grinding down
but lasting, the silk touch in a handhold,
in the holding out for the summit. Nothing
but the wounding in the craters, the uplift
and the gurgling lava; all the ways we read
a stone’s hieroglyphics, the ore’s heavy lead.
Were we to discover, we would uncover a myth,
the stories we tell to renew the pact
with this earth. This, love. Nothing lasts
but the land and our love
of it.

Lorna Dee Cervantes