Venie Environmental Poetry Prize

Carving the Golem by Kristen Lang

The stone knows at heart, of the microbes
tucked into its grains, that they too
are stone, like the trees,
like the flatworms. The birds
are the shards of its wind-caught self.

For aeons it has leaned
into the act of speaking – earthquake
and avalanche, bark and hiss and roar.
In the silk of its spiders’ threads
it has spelt the name for each
shade of darkness, each edge
of green-sucked light.

It longs for poetry
that the very stoniness of the world
might reveal in itself, beyond trees
and moss and pygmy possums,
beyond mayflies and geckos,
the pivot of its dreaming, the crux
of its own unfolding.

It thought the cadences
of the flowers would be enough,
the exquisiteness, self-proclaimed,
of the songbirds’ calls, but still it leans.
A tongue more articulate
than its rivers, a gaze more absorbent
than its soil – how the stone

pushes out until it cannot
recall its own beginnings, shaping the air
with the hauntings of its new designs –
gods and nations, the jangling
of its coins, stacked and divided –
here, says the stone, I am.

The tools of its making twitch
in its mineral hands. And the mud
of its new mouth fills with the tales
of a seer. Though still it dreams, deep
in the belly of its turning. Its night sky
cluttered now by the lights of its mirrors.

A golem
pointing its fingers, feet
out of the dust of stars, trying
to remember.


You can hear Kristen reading her poem here:


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