Free will

What parts of me lie buried in unstoned ground
Dreams and fears alike leached out
Into the indifferent clay?

What parts of what I am pleased to call
My own invention come down
Through the ancient crossfire of nature and nurture
To the ultimate epi-me,
Striding vainly along memory’s boulevards
Grasping at the heart of things?

Isn’t that, too, some determinate of blood and soil?
Of circumstance stenciled onto a genetic landscape,
Long fixed, long before I thought to uncover it?

Go back far enough, and we are all progeny
Of blind, pointless chemical replication,
Some accident of electromechanical impulse
Upon a sludge.

Blood and soil

Sometimes I think the land,
the kind of soil,
the trees, the vining shrubs,
the water and what swims in it,
what crawls out of it,
these things fill veins
with a stronger wine
than mere genetics.

Feet of clay, they say.
Not much clay in these
Northern parts,
all sand and gravel
pushed and mangled down by
ancient ice,
time after time
until all memory is gone.

You’d think such persistence
would make smooth,
but all I know is raw
and open,
like yesterdays.