They had already fallen
into that rhythm
of loving the world;

morning and evening,
the days
stepped out

with something like footfalls,
morning and evening for eons
without a microbe or rat.

Yet there must have been
such suspension,
such breath

in that humid and green
arrival. Sometimes
a kind of prayer

takes any animal
into this warm rain,
breast of something

that loves flesh
and hopes
the new beast will come.

Mary Rose O’Reilley’s first book of poetry, Half Wild, won the Walt Whitman Award. She is also the author of five essay collections, most recently The Love of Impermanent Things. She lives in Minnesota.