Lay for the Day 23rd
the cosmic calendar devised by the astronomer Carl Sagan, in which the
entire history of the universe is represented as a single year, with the
Big Bang at midnight on 1st January, life on earth begins about 25th September,
and humankind appears at about half past ten on the night of 31st December.
twenty-third of December corresponds to the Carboniferous Period, when
trees first appeared and the vast forests grew whose residues provide
us with coal, oil and gas.
poem is third in a set of seven that conclude the book of Praises.
The rest appear elsewhere, in a run beginning on 23rd
October said by the 17th-century Archbishop Ussher to have
been the day, in 4004BC, when God started Creation.
99. Of Days
In the jostling diversity
of divided things and forces, God worked
on through the night. The waters he had spent
a whole day taming streamed and roared above
and below. Massive, agitated, vast,
the abyss would have been as astonished
as the angels, had it not been self-
absorbed, to find him in the third mornings
wild light working a tiny universe
into the great one, the rough crust of earth
sporting tendrils, foaming out in fronds whose
delicacy, regressing as they grew,
increased the world’s infinite scope. That was
Tuesday, the trees day, day of greenery.
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar