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The Dust Speaks


 I always come back.
Not out of spite. Not
to annoy you. I settle
here in your home
because I am you.
I am your sloughed off skin.
I’m your hair. I’m your cells.
I’m fibers from your clothes
mixed with bits of dead bugs
and soil and pollen and plastic.
I am the memory
of everywhere you’ve been
and I am the memory
of what you do
and I come from places
you’ll never go.
I can shine, too—
sometimes when the light is right
you see me glitter in the room
and curse me.
But child of the cosmos,
I am here to help you remember
where you came from.
And child of earth,
I am here to help you see
you are one with everything.
I am here to remind you
where you go from here.

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The glass vase on the table
remembers when it was sand—
remembers its molecules
of silicon dioxide, remembers
what it was like to be singular grains
transported by wind. It remembers
the heat it took to melt,
to lose its crystalline structure.
How intense it is to transform.
It is no small thing to know clarity.
It is no small thing to lose
what we thought we knew of the self,
to submit to a process that changes us
forever. This woman sitting beside
the glass vase on the table
cannot remember when she was dust,
but she remembers those nights
of falling with no one to catch her.
She remembers those days
when she begged the world to open her.
She remembers losing what she thought
she knew and how it was replaced
with the most beautiful nothing—
even now she is changing in ways
she could never predict. Even now
she feels herself melting.

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Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration.

—John Keats, letter to George and Thomas Keats on December 21, 1817

 

 

For an hour we gathered rocks

and laid them in patterns in the sand

and named our collection

“The Museum of Beautiful and Useless Rocks.”

What did we know of the rocks?

Only the pleasure of choosing them,

of finding just the right rhythm

of reds and blues and grays –

we chose them by shape, by

the way they fell apart, by how smooth

or lumpy they were, we chose them

for no reason at all except that

there was joy in the finding

and joy in the rearranging of the bank.

There was no real end to the task,

it was only that the wind turned chill,

so we left the collection unfinished,

as beauty always is, and returned

to the house for lunch—none of us

feeling the hand that had chosen us,

that hand even then rearranging

us into new stanzas of shifting dust.

 

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