|Flickr Creative Commons photo by Doug Wheller|
On February 6, one of my all-time favorite poets died. Plain-spoken, New Hampshire farmer and horsewoman Maxine Kumin will never write another poem.
It pains my heart to be reminded that all life and all art are finite. And yet, in spite of every ending, we go on. We came from this earth and we will return to the earth the handful of minerals we have been loaned for our brief time here. We go on because we are and always will be A Part Of It All. And the art we leave will live on in strangers' hearts; our words will change lives without our knowledge or consent. We go on.
The Excrement Poem
It is done by us all, as God disposes, from
the least cast of worm to what may have been
in the case of the brontosaur, say, spoor
of considerable heft, something awesome.
We eat, we evacuate, survivors that we are.
I think these things each morning with shovel
and rake, drawing the risen brown buns
toward me, fresh from the horse oven, as it were,
or culling the alfalfa-green ones, expelled
in a state of ooze, through the sawdust bed
to take a serviceable form, as putty does,
so as to lift out entire from the stall.
And wheeling to it, storming up the slope,
I think of the angle of repose the manure
pile assumes, how sparrows come to pick
the redelivered grain, how inky-cap
coprinus mushrooms spring up in a downpour.
I think of what drops from us and must then
be moved to make way for the next and next.
However much we stain the world, spatter
it with our leavings, make stenches, defile
the great formal oceans with what leaks down,
trundling off today's last barrowful,
I honor shit for saying: We go on.