First the Shoot



“Of its own accord, the land produces first the shoot,
then the ear,
then the grain in the ear.” –Mark 4:28

Long after, in the rocks,
he found what he was looking for,
and waited.

but the secrets
stayed stone.

He felt
first the shoot,
like disappointment,
rooting in his bowels,

then the nausea,
like hunger poisoned,
twisting his belly.

Straining, he began to hear
the whispers of all
he could not say, and
feared he would
go mad before
he understood.

Even when they grew
louder, he worried they
would distract him,
leave him penniless and lonely.

Only when his vision failed
and his body lay reduced
did the whispers
begin to shout —

listening now full-eared,
he smiled,
closed his eyes,
and felt his stomach
begin to fill.

[for Mark Chalmer]


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