Moon Drifter Reader

Keith Emmons

Long morning. We are on the edge
of the long morning. We are only a few
who see the dawn; our voices rise
as the great round ball of fire,
the great warming yellow globe,
caring not
for our small follies, caring not
if we aid one another
if we feed one another,
feed off one another,
if we eat each other.
For the sun rises and falls, as the tides
rising and falling,
bring the sea toward the shore,
then draw it back into itself,
the light revolving with the darkness.

If we love one another,
if we hate one other, nothing cares,
for there is nothing to care,
nothing to care,
the curlew peeps in the air,
the slow worm presses the dumb sod aside,
the crab scuttles sideways
inside his bony world.

The curlew peeps. The pilings
imperceptibly crumble into the mud.
Day by day the sea anemone
swaying their ghost-white arms, their jelly-tube hair,
waving as the moon sighs high, as the heron
swoops down on silent gray arms, as deer
nervously sniffle the air,
wondering if they dare trespass from the hills,
past land-humans in square-eyed boxes,

down to the bayside tule,
startling the heron
standing with his still silhouette.

We are the silent dawn unheard in books,
unread in papers, lost in radios,
caring not for wires and gasoline games.

We are a small people, two-legged, four-legged,
with fur feathers and skin;
we are a small and timid folk
on the edge of a huge and “civilized” noise.

We are moon-watchers.  Silently
we be unto ourselves, retreating . . . unto ourselves.
Hearing the earth-eating engines approach,
we back off, unto ourselves, sharing eyes, side-looks,
with ourselves, backing amongst ourselves,
we who see we mean one another no harm,
who see we mean not to thieve from one another
nor from the Mother we share.

And where we are fools
and crush one another,
we hope to learn a greater wisdom,
a greater gentleness,
that we may know before it’s too late,
if we crush our gentle brother
we crush ourselves.

Here we have the cast-off rubble of things,
in the field of fennel, on the cove,
the hutches, the hovels,
the houseboats and homes, men and women
young, old, but strong and daring –
daring to be themselves! –
daring to raise their children
as they are –
not as the outer world
wants them to be.
We take the cast-off rubble of things,
we take the leavings
that belong to no one –
to no one but Earth, and to those
who live on what Earth freely gives,
and deprives no one when we take it,
like the sunrise we all use
with no lessening for others.

Here again is the teepee sprouting from earth,
the sweat lodge,
the smoking tent for fish
given by the sea.

Here are gardens with the set-in seed,
the magic of pumpkin, squash, and corn,
of green sproutings leaping from Earth,
chickens earnestly scratching,
seeking the white grub under brown leaves,
running in panic before the goat
bleating with a mouthful of ripped-up grass.

The goat gives milk, the chicken
gives the egg, the earth the tomato,
the fish the sea as the horizon
gives us dawn each day.


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