by Stephen Edgar

Imagine a language with catches like barbs that caught as it grew all earthly marks…
John Hughes, from "On Language"

The seed in winter or, perhaps,
The dormant seed where years elapse

In desert soil, till spring or rain
Uncurls that sleeping green again,

It lay, swollen with image, swelling
With thought, how long there is no telling,

Stirred by the complex genes and sense,
The shifting of the continents,

The altered, esemplastic seas,
And a sky induced to safe degrees.

The fat drops fell, the season came,
Seed split, and Ah pronounced its name.

As lush as grass, quick as bamboo,
Barbed and burred and bristling grew

The glib and eager vine of speech,
Entangling everything in reach,
Each hispid leaf, each hook and thorn
Snagging a subject to adorn

And nourish it: the lichened stone,
The marrow sizzling from a bone,

The silver scripture of the snail,
The crescent moon in a fingernail,

The waves that paint their varied stains
In sand, whose varnish dries and drains,

Bird prints, tree weepings, rockpool whorls,*
Her cheek, the way the fern unfurls;

The pawpaw’s scent, desire’s, or fear’s
More rancid tang, the taste of tears,

A whisper, or the thunder’s din,
The morning wind across the skin;

And, twisting back into the mind
Where it took root, at last to bind

Each notion, fancy, mood and care
In green luxuriance, and there

To seed itself again — and curled
In every seed another world.


* This line draws phrases directly from Hughes's text —  http://www.abc.net.au/rn/linguafranca/stories/2008/2226392.htm
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