Dust to dust

Alice Major

A film of silver on the bookshelf,
fluffs of disaggregated substance
on the baseboards. Much of it is me—            I’m shedding
seven million flakes of skin a minute,
a whole outer layer of myself
day by day. There’s just so much dust
to dust. And it isn’t only me.            We’re headinggravewards faster than we think.Seven billion people on the planet, plusour dogs and cats, our cows, the pollenfrom our mutated crops—and thenall that desiccated soil blown infrom desertified territories.            A webbingof soot and off-scourings, a scurfthat settles into every crevice, accretesbeyond the reach of rags and cleanser.Dust to dust. The round world’s winding sheet.

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Alice  Major

Alice Major, Edmonton’s first poet laureate, has published 11 books of poetry and essays, many of which explore her long-standing interest in the sciences. She is the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta 2017 Distinguished Artist Award. Her most recent publications with UAP are Standard candles and Intersecting Sets: A Poet Looks at Science. You can find her online at alicemajor.com (Author photo by Rebecca Lippiatt)

Alice Major observes the comedy and the tragedy of this human-dominated moment on Earth. Major’s most persistent question—“Where do we fit in the universe?”—is made more urgent by the ecological calamity of human-driven climate change. Her poetry leads us to question human hierarchies, loyalties, and consciousness, and challenges us to find some humility in our overblown sense of our cosmic significance.

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