His name was Orville
born in 1932 when his father’s hero
But this Orville saw the ground as pleasant
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
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
lullabies of endless variation.
And he is ready to sleep.