Care for the Dead

(The following is from my 2005 book of poetry, Ordinary Time, which provided the inspiration for the title of this blog. I will be republishing the poems here over the next several weeks in their original order)


Care for the Dead


              To sense the life
    that used to live here,
       I pick up a clump
     of dirt from the field
                  and let it crumble
    between my fingers
        and watch it fall  
 and mix back
              with the earth.
        Something here
                      has changed. I
                 changed and changed it.
    I have desecrated
      something sacred.
           I ask nature        
              to forgive the bulldozer
       of my hands, crumpling
           the graves of men
                             I never knew,
                and never cared about,
         until now.
Now I come. Now the poet
     in me
  pretends to care.
                   I try. I do. But I
         cannot wait for a better poet
     to caress my dust
           and write of his love
                              for the dirt
                  between his fingertips
          and buried under his nails.