Lost beginnings

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?

What is?

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