In a bright blink of an eye
a kestrel rested its wing
in mid flight hunting mice;
A man spilling milk
Thought he saw a drop pause midair
Before it disappeared below the dirt floor.
Nothing mattered anymore;
Meaning seeped past reason;
All morning, no one wanted to leave his bed;
The world felt nothing
as if the sky had rested on the earth too long
And was asleep, each speck of dew
Numb pinpricks that held no pain.
In the first hours,
New leaves that were not there
Revealed themselves in the light
That dappled past the apple branches.
The wet ground smelled of coffee;
A man walking to market knew
That it would be sweet
If he touched it to his lips;
The old bones in the yard
Did not move in the wind,
But they shone a bit brighter
In the morning sun.
Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam,
grieving the death of his child,
hung his corpse from a tree to dry.
The vermin and corvids came,
stripped the flesh, wind and sand
polished the bones
rattling them like chimes;
Lamech came every day to listen
to the chatter of death,
and heard music he felt compelled
to remake, which is how he came
to carve the oud
in the shape of his swaying son
reminding him of life and the song
the wind sings through branches and bones.
When water broke through,
Flooding the Wangjialing mine
In China’s northern Shanxi Province,
All feared the 153 miners
Trapped in the black waters
Would drown or die breathing poison gas
Trapped in the shaft along with them.
But they hung on, one
Quite literally, attaching his belt
To the mine wall to stay above
The rising coal waters
For three days until a he saw
Lazing by, a mining cart;
He swam to it and was carried
To 113 others, standing on one platform
For one week, stripping bark
Off the pine supports, eating the fibers
Until rescuers in rafts
Descended into the tunnel
To take them to the surface
Where thousands had kept unending vigil.
One rescuer told the press, weeping:
“I have not slept for several days.
Our efforts have not been in vain.”