It abides in secret on my pencil tip—
Greenland graphite, fossil bodies, the spans
of lost beginnings hoarded from the deeps
into softest stone across geologic time
to bring its word here for the wind to edit,
dawn quickened in folds of a stringent pool.
So life leaps from non-life, leaps outside the loop
of the un-living factum, the material pit,
to ride the sudden unfolding of a tide,
billions of years passing, before it snaps
into the billowing the sea-vents emit;
before it steadies, permeates, picks up speed
to surface dimly from the thrumming deeps.
There at the latest summit, another pool
in another random smattering of time
rounds out the new like a thought on the tip
of a tongue. To parse intent across vast spans
requires faith, or brief belief in the self-edit-
ing savvy of an always avid tide,
prodigal matter surging at Cambrian speed—
such selahs in the shales!—so another welter snaps
across scales, loop by impossible loop,
like a flicker from the Godhead’s fingertip,
everything bodied, so even the stones emit light.
Perhaps, accounting, one might venture time
the mirror in which the Face reflecting it
sustains this aching flow from the very pit
of things, edge-less edge, below the deeps.
The longing eye looks from a shallow pool
at all that is, infinitesimal bridge that spans
across absence the way a synapse snaps
into mind, into place. Nothing can stem it.
Picture a loop that evolves into a loop,
how always something new leaps from the tide,
everything burgeoning borne at light speed,
though momently all looks destined for the pit.
An epitaph is not the final tip that snaps
one back into the deeps—sad, digressive pool.
The loop that is everything emits such speed
it spans the tide that will edit time, all, yes, into all.
Daniel Tobin is the author of eight books of poems, Where the World is Made (University Press of New England, 1999), Double Life (Louisiana State University Press, 2004), The Narrows (Four Way Books, 2005), Second Things (Four Way Books, 2008), Belated Heavens (Four Way Books, 2010), The Net (Four Way Books, 2014), From Nothing (Four Way Books, 2016), and Blood Labors (Four Way Books, 2018), as well as The Stone in the Air, his suite of versions from the German of Paul Celan (Salmon Poetry, 2018). Among his awards are the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry, “The Discovery/The Nation Award,” The Robert Penn Warren Award, the Greensboro Review Prize, the Robert Frost Fellowship, the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, the Julia Ward Howe Prize, the Stephen J. Meringoff Award in Poetry, and creative writing fellowships in poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. The Narrows was a featured book on Poetry Daily, as well as a finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Poetry Book Award. His poems have appeared nationally and internationally in such journals as The Nation, The New Republic, The Harvard Review, Poetry, The American Scholar, The Paris Review, The Southern Review, The Sewanee Review, The Hudson Review, The Kenyon Review, Image, The Times Literary Supplement (England), Stand (England), Agenda(England), Descant (Canada), and Poetry Ireland Review. His critical study, Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, came out to wide praise from the University of Kentucky Press in 1999. His recent book of essays, Awake in America, appeared from the University of Notre Dame Press in 2011. Tobin has also edited The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present (University of Notre Dame Press, 2007), Light in the Hand: The Selected Poems Lola Ridge (Quale Press, 2007), (with Pimone Triplett) Poet’s Work, Poet’s Play: Essays on the Practice and the Art (University of Michigan Press, 2007), and To The Many: Collected Early Works of Lola Ridge, which received a Special Commendation from the Poetry Society (UK). His work has been anthologized in Hammer and Blaze, The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets, Poetry Daily Essentials 2007, Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn, Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, The Norton Introduction to Poetry, and elsewhere. He has also published numerous essays on modern and contemporary poetry in the United States and abroad. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston.