The Earthquakes

Earthquakes shook the mountains,
as if like in the song
the land was delicate.

These shudders we felt were memories
of how it had been raised and then
how it had been hacked up.

Its apprenticeship,
the land’s,
was not that beautiful.

For a start it wasn’t one or two,
it was many.

For a start there was nothing heroic
about how it had been brought to light

or how it had come to be known
and knew itself as one.

It was a fact that the land had fallen asleep.

And in its sleep
it’d had many adventures.

In one it might’ve crossed the ocean on a quest.
In another it would’ve faced death.

But in each case before it completed its task
it woke or was woken up shaking.

Not only was the land frustrated its dreams ended
or were cut short before they finished,
it never woke up fully:

the quakes we felt were not strong enough;

or it was too thick-skinned to allow itself
to be taken where its memories would lead;

alternatively, like any of us would be,
it was scared.

It pulled its white covers back over its head
and tried to recapture the dream at the part
where something truly momentous
was about to happen,

where it was just about to claim
through some deed of courage or bravery
the hero’s cloak.

As it rolled over and went back to sleep
a new adventure would instead begin
and naturally the land would be caught up in it.

Until at the crucial moment
this adventure too
was interrupted:

at the point of finding love
or achieving wisdom
or life eternal the mountains shook.

And the beaches shook.
And the wide plains with their great rivers shook.

And for an instant
for as long as it lasted
the land remembered,
it woke up,
it almost woke up.

It was not one, it was many.
It was delicate, not solid.

It had been raised from the seas and hacked to pieces.
It was not that beautiful.

And then they would pass,
these souvenirs,
they would sink back whence they’d come

into the depths of the world and chaos.