poem-a-day

Exhibit 1

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, December 11, 2017
About this Poem 
“‘Exhibit 1’ belongs to a collection of poems I’m writing about geological time. It is the first of a series of numbered ‘exhibits’ of the earth, which I think of as verbal equivalencies to the artist Robert Smithson’s ‘non-sites.’ ‘Exhibit 1’ is influenced too by another New Jersey native and lover of rocks, John McPhee, and his Annals of the Former World.  ‘Exhibit 1’ is a base map of the North American continent, a columnar container of time and space, an invitation.”
—Susan Barba
 

Exhibit 1

Start with a base map, unlabeled terrain,
in shaded green and ochre, nude relief,
 
cool continental mass bathing in blue,
a face whose features now are visible,
 
unannotated, apolitical,
as if a mighty snow had settled here
 
and muffled every static line and letter,
earth as naked as the moon, but full
 
of lively color, from the fissured west
into the placid belly of the country,
 
eastward over quartzite ridge, carbonate
valley into southwest-trending s-curves
 
up the coast, a range two thousand miles,
two hundred fifty million years of mountain
 
formed in three successive waves of rock
uplifted and depressed, and in the west
 
it’s just begun. Nine hundred million acres
under time, under stress and stretches
 
of content. Reserved for a duration.
Blue-green grid of constant revolution.

Copyright © 2017 by Susan Barba. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Susan Barba. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 11, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.