O Atlas, I fear that none of us
have thanked you in a while
for holding up this heavy ball
of molten ore and air called earth.
We go about our busy lives
so unaware of all you do to shoulder
our dilemmas, sunsets, wars
and raging seas, and every plant
and creature who dwells upon the earth.
We were so light and spare in youth.
No doubt your burden has increased
in recent years. For one thing,
we were fewer and wore only sandals,
no steel-toed boots left marks upon Aegean shores.
No “Super-Size Me” issued from the oracle at Delphi.
No odious pollutants weighed down the atmosphere,
tearing holes in the ozone. To be sure,
there were onerous matters compounding the load:
rape and war and patricide to name a few.
But those people were the youthful ancients
who hadn’t yet worked out the moral code.
You could forgive them their foibles of the day
and were glad to hoist them and their troubles
on their merry way beside the chariot of the sun.
I imagine, though, you are getting rather tired
of us by now and our selfish neglect of your well-being.
It is a thankless task, it is, holding up the earth.
And if you should shrug, well, we’d be goners.
Perhaps, after all your years of dedication,
holding us safe on the mountain of your back,
we could find a way to hold down the fort without you for a day or two,
give you a break for a scotch and a massage, an evening by the fire.