It Is Not Yours, Part 2 (of 4) (with audio)

Here’s the second installment of a poem in four parts. Here’s Part I, in case you missed it.

It Is Not Yours II

Lucca Daniel Green               17 January 2023
		Shattered shards revealed
		with the dawn sun, at midday, dusk;
		others gleam by a radiant darkness:
		ancient trunks swallowed in mud
		and covered by Ocean’s salt surf
		as if yesterday they’d succumbed,
		they and their verdant mosses.

It started with picking up the sharp junk all over the yard around this house I’m renting in Tucson. Sharps everywhere is par for the course in Tucson: a certain carelessness continues to prevail among resident and immigrant Tucsonans alike. Many of us are committed to ridding our spaces of garbage tossed here or there by whoever, whether human or javelina. But still, there are shards of glass literally everywhere. Like most other properties I’ve rented or looked at, here and in Michigan, nails in various stages of oxidizing are dispersed throughout the yard, although the problem is particularly acute here: I’ve pulled easily over 200 nails since I started picking up when I first got here in November. I’ve also found three rusty razorblades, one designed by the devil himself with these extra sharps off the back edge curling outward on either side. Oh, and because this neighborhood used to be hood, I’ve also found maybe half a dozen shells so far (like shells from bullets, not from clams lol). So far I’ve already filled a Trader Joe’s bag with this rubbish and I’m onto the next.

Anyway after maybe three weeks of picking up nails and glass, I found something remarkable:

Is this, as it appears to be, a chunk of very ancient wood, moss included? I can’t say for sure, but whether or not it really is, it still made me realize that as I’d been picking up nails and glass and whatever else, I was sifting through so much petrified wood. That took my breath away. I love ancient things. I love trees. I hadn’t ever associated Tucson with petrified trees (or anything ancient), but soon I would realize I was standing on fragments of petrified, agatized and opalized wood

Either the same day or the next, I found something else, something that actually broke my brain:

I saw this on the ground and my first thought was that it was a walnut. Somehow miraculously a huge walnut, sans shell, found its way into my yard. I was struck by the idea that there must be a walnut tree around here, but I wasn’t aware of any walnut varieties native to Tucson (I imagine there actually could be, but I’m just generally ignorant enough to have not encountered them). The bit with the black spot was facing upward, and immediately my brain took it for a squirrel’s quick bite to test their find before storing it. I’d been seeing this same thing over and over again in the yard where I’d been staying for several months in Michigan before getting back down to Tucson. (As it happens, I wrote about the murderous walnut tree in that yard a few months back.)

But as soon as I picked up what I took for a woody, nearly fresh walnut, dropped by some squirrel-like animal, it revealed itself: not woody or recently grown; it is stone. Even as stone its skin is remarkably supple. Every crease, every bulge, everything is there.

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this seed petrified long ago thanks to some kind of squirrel-ish creature. When I first picked it up, turning it over and over in my palm, I stood there, my eyes fixed on it, trying to process it. Of course seeds would petrify as readily as any other organic matter in the right conditions. And seeds are even buried intentionally by so many creatures who rely on gathering and storage. It is the whole purpose of a seed, really, to be covered with earth—just not so much that it ends up petrified…

In its present state, the poor thing is only a petrified reminder of what it could have done, had it only fallen into a conducive environment. (Are we still talking about a rock….? Oh dear….)

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