The Cave by Rustin Larson

The Cave
The most beautiful thing I saw today
was a damaged square of sidewalk
where an old butternut tree had fallen
and cracked it like a pie crust
revealing a hollowness that plummeted
forty feet down into an abandoned coal-
mine shaft.  A room with walls of coal.
I once entered a cave, felt an ancient comfort.  Today
I woke in my room.  When I meditate I plummet
and imagine I can understand bird song, the sidewalk
robin, “For this day we thank thee, for thy pie crust
we thank thee, for our lives…” The song falls
down the long shaft of being to where I sit, fallen.
The cave was in Missouri; I felt at home inside; no coal,
just graffiti from Jesse James.  I could see the crusts
of bread strewn in the bandits’ grotto.  Today
however is blind.  I pound the sidewalk
with a stick, hear its hollowness.  Coins plummet
as I throw them into the crack.  A buzzard plummets
from an invisible mountain, roses have fallen
and light the cavern with embers, onions walk
out of the garden, sugar burns into a lump of coal,
the pie becomes a rock, the robin creates day,
our ancestors’ bodies sleep in the earth’s crust.
If I have time for stories, I trust
so many things are subtracted, plummeted
down into nothingness, just like daylight
without earth for it to shine upon, the fallen
soul’s limitless with wings soaring around a coal
of intention in uncreated space, a walk
without soil or solidity.  No, my fragmented walk
is what it is, my mind broken like the crust
of a communion wafer, the lit coal
on the tongue, the destruction, inevitable, plummeting
around and dependent upon and part of the body fallen
from its tower of ashes into unending day.
Rustin Larson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, and North American Review. He won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino and was a prize winner in The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation contests. A graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival, and a featured poet at the Poetry at Round Top Festival.


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