XENOPHANES

(I)

The sun is composed of ignited clouds,
And through its warmth it forms the clouds.

Who can find a beginning to this?
Everything cycles without beginning.

The sea exhales, and there is wind;
The wind drives waves across the sea.

Who can discover an end to this?
Everything cycles without an end.

We are a mixture of earth and water.
Earth and water together are mud.

Who can find the logic of this?
Truly our thoughts fall short of the god’s.

(II)

In Syracuse, impressions of fish.
In the mountains, shells within the rocks.

These things bespeak an age of mud,
When earth was softer than we know.

Even today, the sea is rising,
The earth dissolving in the moist.

After destruction, new creation:
Many and varied forms of mud.

Cycles—yes, a comforting notion,
But in each cycle, cataclysm.

Who can discover an escape from this?
The age of mud—who can escape it?


AARON NOVICK is an assistant professor of philosophy at Purdue University. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Dunes Review, Notre Dame Review, The American Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere.