Douglas Messerli

The First Step



Even this crumb
on the tepid edges
of the field we are about
to circumnavigate is still
a meal to some-they await
our date with the grass
and soil, the experience
of anticipation. What is left
but retreat, unavailable
to those who have gone before-
fast movers of morning
hurrying off to catch the first
worm. Did they squirm
when the mud began to suck
them into the present of the past
perfect for what might have been.
Existence saps all sentiment
from one's exit. Expectation gropes
the shadows of the incomplete.
Into the house of the brain fear
crawls, so tired it can hardly sleep.
The air closes over what
we know is inevitable, the first step.
But where, where?

24 June 2003