The Man Moves Earth

By Cathy Song b. 1955 Cathy Song
The man moves earth   
to dispel grief.
He digs holes
the size of cars.
In proportion to what is taken   
what is given multiplies—
rain-swollen ponds
and dirt mounds
rooted with flame-tipped flowers.
He carries trees like children   
struggling to be set down.   
Trees that have lived
out their lives,
he cuts and stacks
like loaves of bread
which he will feed the fire.   
The green smoke sweetens   
his house.

The woman sweeps air
to banish sadness.   
She dusts floors,   
polishes objects
made of clay and wood.
In proportion to what is taken
what is given multiplies—
the task of something   
else to clean.
Gleaming appliances   
beg to be smudged,
breathed upon by small children
and large animals   
flicking out hope   
as she whirls by,   
flap of tongue,
scratch of paw,
sweetly reminding her.

The man moves earth,   
the woman sweeps air.   
Together they pull water   
out of the other,
pull with the muscular   
ache of the living,
hauling from the deep   
well of the body
the rain-swollen,
the flame-tipped,
the milk-fed—
all that cycles
through lives moving,   
lives sweeping, water   
circulating between them   
like breath,
drawn out of leaves by light.

Cathy Song, “The Man Moves Earth” from Poetry 186 (April 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Cathy Song. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

Source: Poetry (Poetry Foundation, 2005)

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Poet Cathy Song b. 1955

Subjects Jobs & Working, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Home Life, Marriage & Companionship, Activities, Love, Living, Realistic & Complicated

Occasions Funerals, Anniversary

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Cathy  Song

Biography

Poet Cathy Song was born and raised in Hawaii and is of Korean and Chinese descent. Her work  draws on her rich Korean-Chinese ancestry as well as her experiences as an American and a woman. In poems that have been compared by critics to the muted tints of watercolor paintings, Song has consistently created a world rich with narrative and imagery that transcends her own ethnic and regional background. Song herself resists . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Jobs & Working, Sorrow & Grieving, Relationships, Home Life, Marriage & Companionship, Activities, Love, Living, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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