Bell Rock. Courthouse Rock. Devil’s Bridge.

Time has made the land forms

and they grow more beautiful with age.

Names come from the human world,

possession bleeding into perception.


What if the land had its own language?

No alphabet but steady drone

of grasslands, groan of mountains,

drought-fire’s scream—a drawn-out cry,

hiss of rain, simmer of seeds


stirring restless in the soil

pure presence and process

breaking into the place

made new by cataclysm.

That’s the planet speaking


and she cares about the fissures

in the dry river bed, about the lack

of ripe cherries in Washington

and blue crabs in Maryland,

savannah lions down by half.


She cares about the sunrise, dandelions,

and PCBs. She embraces whatever

we give her—blood, bone, rust

become her. She invented us

to do the work the word “care” implies,


invented us to invent words,

the thicket of endless possibilities

so death does not get the last word,

so groan and hiss could be accompanied

by our chatter, dirge, thesis, and psalm.