:: Article

Ore

By Susan Barba.

Ore

a subterranean
sounding

rock unsteady
fissuring from roque

has it begun

the new sedimentary
sentence

our influence
on rock


is it an animal
five-generation
imagination
that fails to stop

this scrabbling to
un-earth

killing time
by burning

guzzling

fossils tucked warm
in rock a million years

is it obscene
to call this epoch
of the present melting

ice age anthropocene

after a pyromaniac
race of vertebrates 
aren’t we colonizing time

reducing the stratigraphic record

to our hour
/ minute hands

can’t earth, the rock of it, remain

intractable


in the multi-volume registers
of rock H. sapiens is the latest
one-line entry

but the mineral alphabet does not begin
with anthropos


it begins with dust

with mud

sun, water

bits of fin, claw, mandible

deposits

in the bank

of Time

Darwin compared our knowledge
of the structure of the earth

with chickens scratching in the corner
of a 100-acre field

Levi-Strauss proposed the study of
entropology, our hurry

to disintegrate, blithely
breaking down all structure

last century men

established
methodologies:

observing
measuring
surveying
mapping
drilling
magnifying
heating
pressurizing
acidifying
liquefying
refining
defining

monetizing
inert matter

turning rock
into bread


rock hounds

lives spent out of doors

deciphering lithos into lingua

created a field

geo-logy, or how to read
the rock column of time

in words and rocks
the order is the meaning


earth the story they’re breaking
legible only if intact

not hoarded
sold to speculators prospectors
petrochemical lords

nor ignored
in the orogenies
of daily new/s

but graven

here

in a field
of antiquity

of ore and meteor

rusting outside a rock shop
just past Zion

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Susan Barba is a poet and translator whose work has been published in Poetry, Boston Review, The Hudson Review, The Yale Review, Antioch Review, Harvard Review, and Words Without Borders. She works as a senior editor with New York Review Books and lives in Cambridge, MA. Her first full-length poetry collection, Fair Sun, was published this spring by David R. Godine, Publisher.

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Friday, April 20th, 2018.