A Soho loft, if filled with earth,

creates an air that pushes back,

a humid sense, a smell that comes


as well to fields after rain. You might drop

onto your knees, then palms, arch your back

as if to root around, to get this smell


back home. But here, lifted from the floorboards

twenty-two inches into air, some hundred forty

tons of mass—it’s heavy, it’s how you breathe here.


Outside, the changing leaves broke

my heart in golden ways. November-crisp,

I nearly missed this season. Jacketed


twenty-somethings clustered on stone

benches by a fountain, caught in a block

of sunlight. Yellow translucent dance of leaves


enflamed the Village air above their heads,

below the high-rise—leaves they’ll tread

next week, sunlight that fed them—they


forked store-bought salads. In like layers, leaf mold

gathers each autumn on sidewalks and yearns,

I suppose, to become earth. It will, somehow.


I’d like to lie with you in a field of winter wheat.

To smell like that, to gaze up the miles of sky

that press us back. The man who filled this room


with earth had come from California. Now care

takers enter weekly with rakes and cull

imagined seedlings, but only after fire sprinklers


feed the tonnage of what we cannot see.

A hyper-aerobic, imported ecosystem,

microbial, desires like me (and you?) the right to mold


and grow in fuller earth than this, beyond the plexi barrier,

caught in a love of light in the leaves, but held

in a room where energy enters at angles,


reflected from the alley brick, fingering into

soil perhaps, but raked away—this earth puts out

heavy smells—squash of clod, artificial rain.