Philosophical poem

The man moves earth

The man moves earth
to dispel grief.
He digs holes
the size of cars.
In proportion to what is taken
what is given multiplies —
rain-swollen ponds
and dirt mounds
rooted with flame-tipped flowers.
He carries trees like children
struggling to be set down.
Trees that have lived
out their lives,
he cuts and stacks
like loaves of bread
which he will feed the fire.
The green smoke sweetens
his house.

Ego

I just didn’t get it —
even with the teacher holding an orange (the earth) in one hand
and a lemon (the moon) in the other,
her favorite student (the sun) standing behind her with a flashlight.
I just couldn’t grasp it —
this whole citrus universe, these bumpy planets revolving so slowly
no one could even see themselves moving.
I used to think if I could only concentrate hard enough
I could be the one person to feel what no one else could,
sense a small tug from the ground, a sky shift, the earth changing gears.

Releasing a Tree

Softly pummeled overnight, the lower
limbs of our Norway spruce
flexed and the deepening snow held them.
Windless sunlight now, so I go out
wearing hip waders and carrying
not a fly rod but a garden hoe. I begin
worrying the snow for the holdfast
of a branch that’s so far down
a wren’s nest floats above it like a buoy.
I work the hoe, not chopping but cradling,
then pull straight up. A current of air
as the needles loft their burden
over my head. Those grace notes
of the snowfall, crystals giving off

Science

Then it was the future, though what’s arrived
isn’t what we had in mind, all chrome and
cybernetics, when we set up exhibits
in the cafeteria for the judges
to review what we’d made of our hypotheses.

The class skeptic (he later refused to sign
anyone’s yearbook, calling it a sentimental
degradation of language) chloroformed mice,
weighing the bodies before and after
to catch the weight of the soul,