Ripple Rock

[Originally published in Dialogue 2010]

This is where my mind wanders
behind this desk
bathed in soft monitor light.
This is where I levitate, oscillate, and glide
on five plastic wheels, a pneumatic column,
lumbar support and everything.
This is where I pour yesterday’s lukewarm
water bottle on my mother-in-law’s tongue.
This is where I push buttons
and pile up symbols and consider
the crust of the earth.
This is where my mind wanders.
How it is thin
not a walnut shell or even a cantaloupe rind
but an apple peel.
Three to five miles thick under oceans;
under continents, twenty-five.
Thin and pregnant and implacable:
always sending up new mountains
—earthquakes and volcanoes—
always pulling high places down.
This is where I concentrate.
Maybe I’m reading something or
taking a call.
I reach for the rock on the edge of my desk
deep red; the size of a cheap paperback.
Something I picked up last summer
hiking a shale bowl with my head down.
A bucktoothed puzzle piece. A million
particles of dust that came to rest on the
floor of an ancient sea.
My hand runs across the ripples over and over
and shallow waves—all these years later—
pull me back.