Poetry

Gifting

By Catherine de Vinck

The hands of the clock turn right
counting the hours sliding off time’s frame.
In the dreamtime, the earth rolls on
in the great void, ever reciting
its tale of fertile beauty.
Instructions have been left: how to care for,
how to love, what is fragile, easily harmed.
But we forget, pull out healthy roots,
disperse ripe seeds to loss,
cut and burn the trees.
We try to decipher the past,
pick up scattered bones of ancestors,
display them under glass in museums.
Still we do not read what they define:
continuity of the strong filaments binding
age to age, people to people, woman to man.

Yet the gifting never ceases:
nests fill with eggs, fields swell
with edible plants, water continues
to rise out of deep, hidden wells.
Pulled by the moon, sea waves unscroll
themselves, foaming on the beach.
What disappears returns,
defying decay and death.
In a corner of the yard
a single tulip blooms year after year
naming itself red and new
in the spring air.