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The Family Is All There Is
by Pattiann Rogers

Think of those old, enduring connections
found in all flesh--the channeling
wires and threads, vacuoles, granules,
plasma and pods, purple veins, ascending
boles and coral sapwood (sugar-
and light-filled), those common ligaments,
filaments, fibers and canals.

Seminal to all kin also is the open
mouth--in heart urchin and octopus belly,
in catfish, moonfish, forest lily,
and rugosa rose, in thirsty magpie,
wailing cat cub, barker, yodeler,
yawning coati.

And there is a pervasive clasping
common to the clan--the hard nails
of lichen and ivy sucker
on the church wall, the bean tendril
and the taproot, the bolted coupling
of crane flies, the hold of the shearwater
on its morning squid, guanine
to cytosine, adenine to thymine,
fingers around fingers, the grip
of the voice on presence, the grasp
of the self on place.

Remember the same hair on pygmy
dormouse and yellow-necked caterpillar,
covering red baboon, thistle seed
and willow herb? Remember the similar
snorts of warthog, walrus, male moose
and sumo wrestler? Remember the familiar
whinny and shimmer found in river birches,
bay mares and bullfrog tadpoles,
in children playing at shoulder tag
on a summer lawn?

The family--weavers, reachers, winders
and connivers, pumpers, runners, air
and bubble riders, rock-sitters, wave-gliders,
wire-wobblers, soothers, flagellators--all
brothers, sisters, all there is.

Name something else.



Pattiann Rogers has published six books of poetry, including Firekeeper: New and Selected Poems, and her most recent collection Eating Bread and Honey, both published by Milkweed Editions. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Poetry Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. She lives in Castle Rock, Colorado. For more information about Pattiann, please visit her website. Pattiann is a regular participant in The Orion Society's Forgotten Language Tour.

If you'd like to order these books (and others), please visit The Orion Society Bookstore.

This poem was originally published in the Autumn 1994 issue of Orion. To order a copy of this issue, please visit The Orion Society Marketplace, call (413) 528-4422, write The Orion Society, 195 Main Street, Great Barrington, MA 01230, or e-mail us at orion@orionsociety.org.



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