Fall 1989 • Vol. XI No. 4 Poetry |

Primitive Sand

How many years had the spring Bubbled its silver into that tiny pond At the stream's head? On the bottom, the sand Had boiled against itself so long It was worn soft and slippery as talc. I was just a boy, With a boy's knees and a boy's head, But I knew when I knelt To drink there How far that posture went back: I could as well have been An ape with my ass in the air. When I rose, I had the feeling I saw, dimly in shade, One of the old ones, The ones of the permanent frown, Who forded a stream on sharp, primitive sand To become us. What a journey they made . . . . What a stream he crossed, My dappled one, my beginning in time. I pressed my hand flat against my brow And then held the palm open toward him. It was a salute I was sure I owed him, Even if he couldn't read it, Even if he wasn't there.

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