For Lumir Civrny, in Prague
Can you sell me the air that passes through your fingers
and hits your face and undoes your hair?
Maybe you could sell me five dollars’ worth of wind,
or more, perhaps sell me a cyclone?
Maybe you would sell me
the thin air, the air
(not all of it) that sweeps
into your garden blossom on blossom
into your garden for the birds,
ten dollars of pure air.
The air it turns and passes
with butterfly-like spins.
No one owns it,no one.
Can you sell me some sky,
the sky that’s blue at times,
or gray again at times,
a small part of your sky,
the one you bought – you think –with all the trees
of your orchard, as one who buys the ceiling with the house?
Can you sell me a dollar’s worth
of sky, two miles
of sky, a fragment of your sky,
whatever piece you can?
The sky is in the clouds.
The clouds are high, they pass.
No one owns them, no one.
Can you sell me some rain, the water
that has given you your tears and wets your tongue?
Can you sell me a dollar’s worth of water
from the spring, a pregnant cloud,
as soft and graceful as a lamb,
or even water fallen on the mountain,
or water gathered in the ponds
abandoned to the dogs,
or one league of the sea, a lake perhaps,
a hundred dollars’ worth of lake?
The water falls, it runs.
The water runs, it passes.
No one holds it, no one.
Can you sell me some land, the deep night
of the roots, the teeth of
dinosaurs and the scattered lime
of distant skeletons?
Can you sell me long since buried jungles,
birds now extinct,
fish fossilized, the sulphur
of volcanoes, a thousand million years
rising in spiral? Can you
sell me some land, can you
sell me some land, can you?
The land that’s yours is mine.
The feet of all walk on it.
No one owns it, no one.