Richard Nester

How To Last

There are no poems as good as bones
for lasting underground. That which would live
with dust must be of dust. Words are too big,
too many cracks and seams, too much
contradiction, too much doubleness.

I’m never at a loss for dust.
Lay down a minute and it’s there,
like time, seeping in.

So it is with bones,
their slow-compounding particles,
the invisible mounting the invisible,
until there’s quite a stack.

No poem was ever made that way,
slow-cooked, hard. Bones admit
the winter cold. Poems guess.
Bones know.

My son learns Indians in school—
Juanenos and Gabrielinos—lost tribes
with names their people wouldn’t recognize.
One was found near Carlsbad recently,
his bones I mean, not him, not his poems.
His poems were gone—
bones with wings.