Terminal Moraine

March 20, 2010

So old, you might think her a little frail—
but you also might think of her as an
elixir an exhausted god might use
to sink poison into its very roots—
to take its own life. Nemesis, pushing back
the folds of earth, not so much as a goddess,
but as a glacier. Think of Nemesis forcing
the earth apart, her manifold, her weight.

It seems funny, doesn’t it? Our deepest
imaginings imagine God a man,
but Nemesis as a woman. As Albrecht
Durer, circa 1500, engraved
her: Nemesis is hard upon the land;
her big fecund body (pregnant?), wings stilled,
her weight, the solemnity of being, realms
inviolate. You think I’m crazy? Wait.

They say an educated man knows where
his food and water come from, where his garbage
ends up. Take water: snow on Long Island
percolates through the surface soil down to
an aquifer, three aquifers, (I looked
it up): the Upper Glacial, then the Lloyd,
and then the Magothy. Long Island, itself
a terminal moraine, formed by the weight,

the shearing, brute power, of glaciers hard
upon the land, of Nemesis, harrowing
the soil, her origin in gravity—
this island will return its beach erosion
to the ocean as glaciers melt, turn pure,
pristine and virginal again (is that
even a possibility?). Dinosaurs
will wade through brackish swamps again, hide, wait

for snow again. The mystery why things
go right inside why they can go so wrong,
ordinary sins alive inside
the extraordinary, piles of snow,
soot black, where artifacts, like golden stones
and tiny eggs emerge as spring arrives.
Is she there, Nemesis, with all her weight,
to watch this world emerge, to wait, to wait?

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