Watching the Ancestral Prayers of Venerable Others

Pattiann Rogers

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Lena Higgins, 92, breastless,

blind, chewing her gums by the window,

is old, but the Great Comet of 1843

 

is much older than that. Dry land

tortoises with their elephantine

feet are often very old, but giant

 

sequoias of the western Sierras

are generations older than that.

The first prayer rattle, made

 

on the savannah of seeds and bones

strung together, is old, but the first

winged cockroach to appear on earth

 

is hundreds of millions of years

older than that. A flowering plant

fossil or a mollusk fossil in limy

 

shale is old. Stony meteorites buried

beneath polar ice are older than that,

and death itself is very, very

 

ancient, but life is certainly older

than death. Shadows and silhouettes

created by primordial sea storms

 

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