I cannot say that I love the earth.

I cannot say that I love the earth. Though I do. As my mother. As I did before I knew she was not me. Before I learned she had a name not mine. Named, as if she were not me. Apart from me. As if I were not her and she were not me and we were, in truth, or in some reality, not one. As if all that exists were not one. As if there were a need or a purpose to name and be named and loved separately. Undifferentiated

I follow the sharp cloud-shadow passing quickly across the grass, over the road Across which a tortoise walks toward the farther side where it knows, has long known, Where the cool stream with sheltered warm pools and rolling eddies, and where the minnows run among the edible eel grass and waving waterweed, Until it flows and sinks into the soil and, in time, into the sea.

I feel the heat of the sand and the slips of algal strands and the imprints of the running dogs Being washed away by the receding waves with the pecking sandpipers close by keeping pace With the thin barefoot young man with a brown beard checking the time and distance With almost every step for hours until the sun goes down Behind the frame houses with salted porches and with summer rent to pay.

And the sticky white lines in corrugated roughed-up bark of the tall pine holding fast Against the leaning of my back, and my head tucked down from the dripping of the rain from the ends of the pendant branches, so near to the canyon edge with the Flinging squirrels and ranks of twisted pinyons and the sudden wind in updrafts in the afternoon so long and slow, reddening the rusted curl of the eastern rim, when seen from far below along the rushing river And the layered limestone washed walls.

While the coolness brings the smell of wood smoke and walnuts, and purple flowers in clusters on the plains close to the ground for warmth and those that bloom all summer long when there is rain or those which wait for another year when the drought years come or drift to another place, another space. Where its life is reignited and redefined again and again by place and time and random need, and circumstantial opportunity.

I cannot say that the earth loves me but somehow I feel it does. We are of the same breath and substance. As my mother and I. From which we coalesced from stardust and carbon and molybdenum, and methane in the breeze, the magnesium and iron from the sea, in time-gathered clusters of sister-and-daughter cells, all alike once and then growing apart not unlike the ancient others, speciating, some becoming green or not and feeding on the ones who did and to whom they owe their life. And from which life after life grew and which could easily have survived and been sustained by taking nothing and leaving little of what existed behind. Though that was not the destiny of this generation.

I cannot say that I love the earth, but I do. Perhaps not enough.

I cannot say that the earth loves me. I believe its existence is love.

No matter. I feel it. In the warming water and the battering wind.

We mean so little, we do. While we scrape away at its crust. Dig into it, bleed it. Suck it dry.

I know it cares not. Soon we will be gone.

Leaving scars and our prints in the sand that will one day wash away.

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