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Conyer Clayton


If the river stood still it would
           become a mountain.

Built on the backs of mallards
           and trout. Their bodies etched
in stone; we dig them out

           and blow the dust off. Rebuild
their existence in code, digital preening,
virtually nesting in the shade by the bushes,
gliding on invisible currents we transmit
to one another every moment of our lives.
We cut it back for aesthetics, but
it will always grow. We always come back

despite the butchering. Flowers
           mimic bugs mimic
branches mimic branches mimic
           bugs. Design isn’t so different,

my skin spotting in the sun, so I can sink
into the sand and wooded places. The edges
we use most often harden and yellow.
           We too can run on stone.
We too migrate over oceans.
Go south for winter. Hunker
           down and hibernate.
We too call out desperately
for mates, pray our voices rise

over the din of engines and radios
and seeds spiralling through the air.
We hold tight to the backs of butterflies
to be carried somewhere fertile
and stable, where our needs will be fulfilled.
           We welcome the dark

thriving worms. Leave them
           under our nails. The sheen
of river feathers. A crackling exoskeleton.
           The lichen children scrape and drop.
The ground it’s all based on. The ground

           it all comes back to. The sources
we cannot escape. The rushing water
taken for granted, scales skillfully
sweeping the surface, breaking the tension,
a wooden spoon laid over a boiling pot.
We touch the surface for stillness.
Press our palms down to release

the excess, counting backwards
from ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five.
           Stopping halfway because
we know the ending. It dumps out somewhere.
An aqueduct or colander. A headlong

waterfall, sharp turn, sharp breath, collecting
hair from the drainpipe. The inevitable
footpath tread next to concrete.
Our bones craving softness.
           We are worn down
layer by layer, no need to relay this
message. We will hear it

           no matter what. The subtle 
           budding despite months of ice.

           We want to be wind
weathered, but soft to touch; a mountain
           pulled apart by shifting plates, slowly
becoming a river again.



Beautifully said! This is why I don't worry about climate change. The Earth and its self-correcting nature is bigger than man's ego and ambition.

Maybe I'm just a worrier and that's why I bristled a moment at David Clayton's comment about not being worried about climate change. But then, I'm the woman whose faith in the strength and power of the universe is founded on the lesson of the space rock that tried to ruin Earth...much was lost, but she recovered in a big way did she not? So I worry about climate change for us of the now but not for our Earth...she's tough, tougher than the rocks she sports. As for us her cockiest kiddos, we're far fewer degrees from everything that's not us than we prefer to believe, eh? And look how much more Conyer Clayton expressed than I just did, and, yes...beautifully!

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