First it was merely one drop
that hit the surface of the
Hungry like a shark, able to
smell the single drop
from a mile away, you came
and swallowed it whole. Though
I’m sure you were never
so far off.
You left a tooth in your
swath. When you fishtailed away
I duck-dove to the sandy ocean floor
grabbed the tooth with my hand
ran my finger along the jagged
bone, not uncarefully. Sharp, it
nicked my index finger
a rivulet of blood trailed across my skin.
The blood flowed like a river
as seen from an airplane, a thin ribbon
that crossed the parallel valleys of my
knuckles. Turned a line with the crease of my palm,
split at the palm’s heel into the Tigris
the Euphrates, veins of the wrist
dried up at the elbow.
I whittled a hole through the tooth
close to the edge that once pressed into your gum.
Looped a cord of leather, wore the trace of you
around my neck. But the sea was not my home
so I paddled a shore. Walked
inland for miles.
There was a field. The farmer
wanted to sell. Edged by birch which blocked
easterly winds: winds that moaned like
windpipes in the cathedral of the
fall. A gnarled and lonely mustard tree
stood solitary in the wind,
with a clear view of the mountains
in the morning.
I carried with me only one bag of seed
in a leather pouch that was sewn into my belt.
“Seeds I have,” the farmer said, wiping
his brow in the noonday sun. And then
he saw the tooth around my neck.
He always dreamed of the sea but
was bound to the land, to the seasons
and cycles of the earth’s fertile womb.
I brought the sea to him when I
bought the field with my one memory
But you were not so far off.
You were up in the the tree
in the leaves. Burrowed deep
like a mole
in the roots.
I sat in your shade at midday.
Carved and lined the field in rows.
Emptied the seeds from my pouch.
Waited for rain.
The seasons came and went
roaring at once like a lion, and
falling upon us like a dove.
Summer and winter, springtime
and harvest. My roots started to
merge with the soil.
Occasionally I longed for the sea.
“Abide,” your whisper
between falling leaves
the wind through blades of grass
whistling, draft off the birds’
I dug the hole. Earth collected underneath
my fingernails, stuck and clumped
to my calloused hands
covered the trail of blood I
never had the heart to wash away.
A pod the shape of my body
long enough and wide so I could fit
chin tucked against my chest
knees pulled into my stomach. I
laid the feeble shell of my body
for burial and commanded the wind.
Heaps of dirt mounded at the hole’s
edge, open as it was like a
lips chapped and dry.
As the wind, summoned from over the mountain
tops, swooped onto the plain and covered me – the living
the weight of earth crushed my bones.
And I saw with what violence the leaves
the branches of the mustard tree shook in the wind.
The last breath of air escaped from my collapsed
lungs, and with mud in my mouth
spit out a reverent
A pin prick of light
the last radiant sight in my
eye at my burial.
How long I waited there
underneath the moving earth
buried, in the dark, breathless and
dead. The only sounds the slow, faint
trickle of my bleeding heart
as it drained every last ounce of blood
into an underwater river.
It’s blood that grows and
nourishes the world, not
And still I waited
breath suspended underground
mouthing words with muddied lips.
“Lest a seed die.” Over and
over until it was the quake and
tremor of the underworld.
Waited with the patience of the dead
for your roots to find me
reach and pull at my rotting flesh
scrape against my skin, bone
wrap around me like a snake to
constrict and press until the last drop of blood
dripped from my veins.
The illusion of my body complete.
How quickly in your grip it could
wither and deflate
dessicate and vanish
wrapped and rooted. How as with fangs you
sucked and drank my relinquished life
like sap. Pulled it through the
intricate matrix of your body.
up into the branches
The tree of life and
© 2010 Andrew Kooman
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