Retroversion of the word:
When it was noise in the throat
Of one who had not learned to write;
And the marks on the ground
Were not the moving finger of a god,
But evidence that man had been around.
There was a footprint, or an indentation
Of a certain size and shape,
Distinguishable from those of bird or beast
Who were more melodious, or more complete
In the manner they spoke.
Man had yet to wake:
That thing who moved on upright bones
And was moved by the sound of the wind
Or the groans of family or foes,
Those new divisions of research
On the obdurate world.
When was the first incision in a stone,
Not to throw or cut or stand
As a pedestal for fire,
But to stop the easy hand
And the gaze in mid-flight:
What is that which appears and demands
Pause and reflection, self-doubt,
The beginning of questioning?
There were no answers; only extensions –
Stroke, curvature, dot, cross and circle –
How did they become
A city and dominion
Beyond the immediate touch?
Who can believe
In the miracle of a phrase,
In the order of a sentence,
In the healing power of a paragraph?
The wheel or fire, or gods, the universe
Were trivial compared to this:
It was a burning bush
That abolished what was natural,
Put in time’s place
The presence of the word.
By Rob Lowe