Denise Levertov

Urgent Whisper

It could be the râle of Earth’s tight chest,
her lungs scarred from old fevers, and she asleep—

but there’s no news from the seismographs,
the crystal pendant
hangs plumb from its hook;

and yet at times (and I whisper because
it’s a fearful thing I tell you)
a subtle shudder has passed
from outside me into my bones,

up from the ground beneath me,
beneath this house, beneath
the road and the trees:

a silent delicate trembling no one has spoken of,
as if a beaten child or captive animal
lay waiting the next blow.

It comes from the Earth herself, I tell you,
Earth herself. I whisper
because I’m ashamed. Isn’t the earth our mother?
Isn’t it we who’ve brought
this terror upon her?