Sedimentary Layers

His name was Orville

born in 1932 when his father’s hero

still flew

But this Orville saw the ground as pleasant

enough.

The layers of sediment caught his boyhood

interest, finding ancient Indian arrowheads

in the loaming earth.

He ached for the feel of a spade as it entered the soft

and easily forgiving soil

where lie hidden the ossified bones of the world,

the clear and cloudy quartzite tears of mothers

whose sons died in wars across the plains,

with turquoise and amethyst for blood and lymph

drained out of red flesh as sunset

raced the dark and lost.

Down deeper he would dig and as he got older

and starlight diamonds glimmered

raised up from the center of the globe,

relieved of crushing pressure,

and placed on young, fragrant woman’s hand.

Tracing warm skin with his lips

honing skills he didn’t know existed.

Orville sleeps beside her

eyes dancing under closed lids

…he’s walking underground

some massive cave system

blazing with hidden light

emanating from his dreaming subconscious.

Cold and endless, no sounds

no shadows

he tries to touch the glitter granite walls

and falls through them as though air

to land on gray dust under vast blackness

with the unbearably bright Earth staring down –

to awake suddenly in his bed

aware that he was alive, now

when all things are new and beautiful.

Orville watches his children grow, takes

them to museums to see fossils and

tells them about titanic battles fought

by leviathans (and chicken-sized) creatures

that lived on this planet, millions of long years ago,

when air was thicker and maps were strange amalgams

of alien continents and rocks were waiting to be born.

Oldest Orville lies staring at the ceiling of his hospital room.

The stromatolites and geodes his daughter brought

sit within reach, but all he thinks of is soil

he feels his fingers digging into it, moist and dense.

Orville thinks of how much he will enjoy his burial

when the world that birthed him can hold him

close to its chest,

feeling in the heartbeat rhythms of

moving crust

lullabies of endless variation.

And he is ready to sleep.

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