Any Soil

Because to claim the land
we spilled blood
both ours and the original occupants
we assumed the right
to name every landmark
with our language
overprinting their musical tongues.

In some places the land
held on fiercely to its original name
unconcerned about the bloodstains
and our declarations of holiness.

In other places our names
sullied the air with burning
that refused to go out.
The acrid smoke drifted
and stuck to all objects
living or created.
Thus the new leaves on trees
did not appear green
and no fruit was born
that first year.

Because of the ruined graves
in a trench-line landscape
the promise that spurred our invasion
was scattered like bread crumbs
before our advance columns
reached the outskirts
of the end of the world.

copyright © 2022 Kenneth P. Gurney

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