Seismology (Cantos, 2019)

I want to build a poem 

from an earthquake. 

I would start with the 

tremors under toes and 

the spastic ripples in a teacup. 

Then maybe my speaker would 

shout to his wife that 

this is the big one 

as they ran for cover 

under their antique dinette. 

I’d have to fill the middle section 

with the requisite sounds—

some rumbles and rattles, 

crashes and screams—

as the bookshelves unfastened 

themselves from their studs. 

As they waited out the furious 

convulsions, my couple would 

conjure the conceit—some 

philosophy on fixedness or 

the fault lines of the heart. 

Peace would come and they 

could sweep up the rubble 

and patch their fragmented selves. 

But I’ve never been in an earthquake. 

I don’t know the subconscious routines, 

the preventive feng shui 

born from a house set jelly-legged 

by the whims of rocks. 

I have been able to trust my steps, 

and walk in straight lines, 

barefoot on calm soil. 

For that I sit blank-paged, 

praying to the floor until it 

opens up and swallows me whole.