Poetry in Motion

St. Louis

Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri

Mona Van Duyn

The quake last night was nothing personal,

you told me this morning. I think one always wonders,
unless, of course, something is visible: tremors
that take us, private and willy-nilly, are usual.

But the earth said last night that what I feel,
you feel; what secretly moves you, moves me.
One small, sensuous catastrophe
makes inklings letters, spelled in a worldly tremble.

The earth, with others on it, turns in its course
as we turn toward each other, less than ourselves, gross,
mindless, more than we were. Pebbles, we swell
to planets, nearing the universal roll,
in our conceit even comprehending the sun,
whose bright ordeal leaves cool men woebegone.

"Earth Tremors Felt in Missouri" by Mona Van Duyn from Selected Poems, published by Alfred A. Knopf. Copyright © 2002 by Mona Van Duyn. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher.