MUD

A Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

When my son digs the pond for his garden,
earth and grass and small branches stain his skin.
The rains come with thunder and brilliance,
the pond fills with water, twig and turtle.
Frogs avoid it, but snakes come to drink,
and the King of Deer leaves its track in the torn grass.
The pond is a great success and water lettuce take root.
Many days he watches an egg become
whole and living and dead. He remembers
many things and keeps neatly printed journals.

2

My wife studies wood,
a shape to root and decadence,
the forms of men in grain.

What color superman when his strength comes from a tree?
What hunger photosynthesis? Carbon dioxide? Radiant energy?

She sees a man go into the tree,
find a sleeping place safe within its folds,
and she draws him a power over rain,
directions for sun-heat and light-fire,
strength over the movement of root.

3

My daughter expresses color in algebraic equations.

4

And my grandson holds his hand out to be cleaned.
Inarticulate, he waves it like a wand,
an incoherence we understand to mean:
“Please, take this mud from my palm.
I only meant to see how it felt,
but now it is a part of me.”

5

Somewhere ash is running,
Building waters,
A great turbulence underground.

6

The importance of life
is always in the remembrance of the dead,

not the hell we fall against,
but the blazing heat of the Laplanders,
the fierce fire that cannot go out in Vinland ,

a prayer to wood and fresh kindling,
the anger needed to warm a soul,

7

how mud bakes itself into brick
somehow

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