The Earthen Man

This was an attempt at a spoken word poem whose genesis was at school where a group of Year 10 students were being introduced to slam poetry.

I took one of the prompts and explored the origins of my name. It is rough but a fun activity to explore. Hope you enjoy it.

The Earthen Man
When I heard the minister pronounce the benediction

At my grandfather’s funeral
“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust”
the recitation of symbolic circulation
I hear echoes of my name

Adam

accent the first letter with exhalation of breath, “Ah”

“Ah-dam”

a whisper of life escaping.
Count those breaths, man of earth, keep a record, keep a tally.
Know its origins lie in ancient roots and ancient lands
your genesis is found in holy writ
the clay, the breath, the man created
the Play-Dough of God’s creative work

“Ah-dam”

a synonym of man and earth
a story deposited and poured from one jar of clay to the next
through eternity’s hourglass until the dust and ashes settle
inverted and another life begins

“Ah-dam”

this life begins as the conjugation of my father’s seed, my mother’s soil
the banker and the occupational therapist
the handy man and the artist
and I look at the dirt beneath my fingernails
see it is more my father than me
but I have mown my fair share of lawns, dug holes and shifted topsoil
I am more likely to find ink beneath my nails
from pens where words seep out like
the sap from a tree I never planted but I am learning to climb
now I garden with words
planting syllable seedlings in the the dust accumulating on the windowsill
in notebooks and diaries and journals
whose pages I imagine falling out like the petals of the cherry blossom
in my parents’ backyard, a delicate cascade of vowels and consonants

“Ah-dam”

in retrospect, memory is an archaeological examination of a past
digging through layers of soil
stratified artefacts poured through a sieve of inconsistency

“Ah-dam”

while the root system seeks out good soil
the surface is choked by weeds and caged by thorns
the fruits of labour harvested
a meagre handful, barely a morsel
a portion for one
let alone enough to feed a family
or the overflow to lay out a feast for friends
and strangers
I would be wise to reap the harvest
plant new seed at season’s turn

“Ah-dam”

the late starter to a race
trying to peg his pace with the front runners
rather than running his own marathon
the rhythm of a heartbeat
I have not kept time with
a pulse I lag behind most often
while trying to rush ahead

“Ah-dam”

Feet of clay baked over many summers
Running barefoot through the streets
Dodging bindies, stones and once, a rusty nail
Embedded into the sole of my foot
A fissure that now lets the water in
disintegrating in the tides
of people

“Ah-dam”

are we more than bags and bags of soil or fertiliser
stacked on shelves in mausoleums of DIY self-aggrandisement?
let me remove the speck of dirt from my eye
form the rain around this granule of dirt
and I will water the ground
from which I came

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One response to “The Earthen Man

  1. I love your imagery of gardening with words and pages like petals

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