by Eric Rosenbloom
copyright 2002

We were nomads, we had seen
The soul in which we live
And wandered far and long.

Its end was never found,
Our knowledge of it growing
With our wanderings in its time and space.

The same soul of rocks and trees,
Animals of earth and sky and river,
Ocean, lake, and the fire inside us.

The fire of our restless thoughts
Burned the soul from within
And forged for us a life of shame.

Guilt followed in every footstep,
Walked beside and soon
Led the way before us.

Hungry, we would kill —
Destroy a part of our life,
A needle of pain inside our heads.

One evening, shivering
From nature’s fickle wrath,
The rain thundering around us,

One man said this soul
Is as large as our travels —
Let it be small in our settlement.

A ditch and a wall would mark the bounds
Of a new world, outside the painful life
Become alien to our clumsy tread.

Ours to feed on, to drink, to mine,
To herd and hunt and enslave
To enrich the soul of our new world.

Cut off from life, we are free
To kill what mocks the stillness
On which we build, house upon house.

We mark our streets with banners
Of our settled god and hang his charms
To guard the doorway from his enemy.

An island of civilization,
The human soul defying the oceans
Of unordered primitive matter.

Beasts to our developed mind,
The world squats before us, offering
Its riches useless to itself.

Its very life depends on ours
It serves and is sacrificed,
Mute to our unargued glory.

Yet devils it sends to turn us
In horror from our deeds, recalling
Reptilian sympathy for the soulless.

In night’s advantage they haunt
The shadows and wait for weakness
To weave their web in sleeping minds.

Like memories they take the shapes
Of our own lives, body and senses,
Our own words in diabolic imitation.

Our own propagation betrays us —
In the suspended moment we join
That ocean outside our walls,

That massed web of inhuman life,
The life without us, that lives us
In the soul beyond our light.

We wake to curse the dark moment,
Push it away, wash our eyes,
Return to the work of oblivion.

[ rosenlake.net/er/poetry ]