Earth in Lucretius


Broom from the collection of Arna-Jharna: The Desert Museum of Rajasthan, India.

Little pale day
I’m speaking to you now
You, shapeliness
Of almost sensational antiquity
Now the hazelnuts are fuzzing out
And the figs are hard
Now your greenness penetrates the house
Now I lend you the smooth carnality
Of my thinking
Like a milk
Now I’ll describe
Gland-like earth.

Grass came first brightly
Then a dedication to flowering
Otherwise known as inventiveness
Then the crescendo of great trees
Then everything else that death will separate.

Earth in Lucretius is various
Porous, loosening, transmitting, scorched
Rolling, hard and monstrous
Not bearing the value of its previous possibility
Now the possible is other than it was before
Nothing retains its own likeness
This is the character of the earth.

The naming of parts was not arbitrary
But arose from desire
Also known as the politics
Of the abandonment of force
Thank you Venus
Who couples the lovers
Every desire is complete
Not composed
Next we capsize
The name
In that frail light
I drink in dirt’s diction.

Of what value is the possible?
It coils
In what manner?
It acts as subject to a possibility
It comes about that there is a time for each substance
I mean that each substance bears with it a difference in time
Especially new shapeliness
Especially the particularly distinctive features
Temperamentally or inherently
As leaf-strewn orders of being
As determined
As ripely caused.

What were the conditions of your birth?
What is your category of existence? Your ability?
Have you lost your taste for acorns?
For weeds?
Of what value is the possible?
Its past is valueless
You have only belief
The value of the possible is present
As living things
That were not before
Together with the time of each.

You might leave
Your country
Could be your flavour.

As the producer of living
The earth spends herself ceaselessly
There’s fruit
Then no fruit
What she has made is no longer
She’ll next make what was not
This is the nature of time
The bodies of women
Know a parallel fecundity
In her maturity
Each woman will produce a new time
Within which a migrant thinking flourishes.

Now return to earth’s infancy
When time was ripe
Earth opened
She flung forth weeds
Time is always ripe, ravenous, disgorging
There being no life before its expression
Of ecstatic minimum
The god-like art of sweeping
Begins there
Very green.

In this one perfectly beautiful place
All the sentences keep drifting away and dissolving
Every one of them is a life
All the things that people don’t say
Live at the horizon
No matter what is later added
The initial architecture remains intact.

In a great superfluity of heat and moisture
Each thing receives a new condition
We gaze, we taste, we listen
Because we want to feel
A mood slides off the Internet
It is a gently curved wall
Of aluminum, tulle, clear plastic and weeds
Everything’s there
As part of the comical study
Of how to love time.

Look, earth dedicated herself
To shape
First greenness and trees
Then everything mortal
Each with its own process
In communicative movement
Life leaves its husk rapaciously
There’s no stability associated with it
Though roots still thrust down

It is
A library
Of confitures
A corrugated hut
A blue plastic rain barrel.

Art must be stupid
Said Baudelaire
Or morning-like.

Canadian poet Lisa Robertson has published many books, most recently 3 Summers from Coach House, and the essay collection Nilling, from BookThug (both Toronto). Recent texts written for artists have been included in the catalogues The Blue One Comes in Black (Liz Magor; Triangle France and Mousse Publishing) and Strange (Karl Larsson; Mousse Publishing).