How Much Earth

Torn into light, you woke wriggling
on a woman's palm. Halved, quartered,
shredded to the wind, you were the life
that thrilled along the underbelly
of a stone. Stilled in the frozen pond
you rinsed heaven with a sigh.

How much earth is a man.
A wall fies down and roses
rush from its teeth; in the fists
of the hungry, cucumbers sleep
their lives away, under your nails
the ocean moans in its bed.

How much earth.
The great ice fields slip
and the broken veins of an eye
startle under light, a hand is planted
and the grave blooms upward
in sunlight and walks the roads.

by Philip Levine

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