From my life as a Christian peasant
I cross my forehead and chest solemnly after kneeling.
From my life as a Sioux, “All my relations.”
From my life as a Jew, I curse God in the daylight,
then steal back at night to kneel in the moon.
From my life as dust, I call all things father
and no place home. From my life as water,
I can rest only in the lowliest places.
From my life as a traveling salesman,
I can’t stop talking or dreaming of maps.
From my life as a stone, I have yet to speak.
From my life as a Russian streetsweeper
I eye women carrying bags of groceries
with suspicion. From my life as a clergyman,
all the tears of a body, more than the sea.
From my last life as rain, this endless longing
for the roots of the earth and a woman’s shadow.
And, again, from my life as dust, this muted yes,
this meaningless assent to all things.
Sam Taylor is an American poet. His first book of poems, Body of the World (Ausable Press, 2005), was a finalist for Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year. He currently teaches with Albert Goldbarth in the MFA poetry program at Wichita State University. He is completing a new collection, poems from which have appeared in The New Republic, The Hudson Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, AGNI, New Letters, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. (updated 4/2012)