An elemental ode

This is my pipe

This is my pipe –
amber stem
three quarter bent,
bowl carved
meerschaum,
a German word meaning
sea foam.
Light
enough to be found
floating
on the Black Sea,
light, white
sea foam
mined from deep
heavy black
earth
beneath Turkey.

Freed from the earth
meerschaum glows soft
white whiter than
cream creamy white
like the moon
that shines
over the black earth,
white as the beluga
whale
in the black depths
beneath the arctic
caps, white as the flesh
of blind fish
in the black
caverns of southern
Mexico, white
it holds the red
flame of my match
like white of paper
pages of books
burned in the fires
of Germany.

Until
the porous foamy stone draws
moisture and resin
from the tobacco
along microscopic
channels
from the bowl to
the surface, firing
it with a patina of
yellow to gold
to orange to amber,
from the base up, like
a slowly rising
image of flame,
requiring years to burn,
or like a slow sunrise
on Venus
taking half a year
to rise
until the entire bowl
is amber
as the stem
made of
amber
this fossil of
pine resin,
which grew millions
of years ago
from the black
earth.
In my hand
I hold eons.

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