I Swear Earth Is a Carnival Queen
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
Grand Prismatic Spring
—Yellowstone National Park
Wet maw of earth painted like a parrot fish frilled
at the banks saying AH with extraordinary breath coffee
makes my teeth earthen plant them and grow a city
when I go don’t bury them deep scatter my ashes
like the spring’s rings in imperfect concentric circles
each one a different shade on a cliffside color is how
geologists tell the when I want to know the why azure
turquoise kelly-green canary mustard apricot I swear
Earth is a carnival queen embellished here by heat-loving
bacteria around a boiling center they say life began
in a pond like this volcanic and sun-splayed
minerals washing down the mountains into the basin
where the unfathomable happened why
is anything alive? why do tourists throw their refuse
into a pot of phenomena? why aren’t we extinct yet?
all I know is when I was young I wanted to be
something grand I stand by the railing and watch
I read a devastating line of verse
and then the sun came out,
the first time in weeks.
I was masturbating as I read
and looking out the window.
Many things were happening.
Each drop of dew on an oak leaf
distinguished itself—a clear
round seed. In the distance, the storm
painted gray walls behind the pines,
but in the foreground, ferns
shook out their hair, striking me
with light. Am I halfway through
my life, or a third? Everywhere yellow
needles from the wet year. They fell
in an airy rain and continued to fall
as the day dried. The young pines
looked older than they were.
The ancient oaks, never greener.
The sun beat down on them both
as I stepped from the house
like something else that was still itself.