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Image: Wonder - By Ruth Calder Murphy

Counting the fingers on my hands,

I begin to count cells instead,

to think of how they’re every day

washed away

to be remade,

constantly making me

a newer version of myself,

despite my growing old…

One, two three -

I count myself among the mysteries

of life and death.

Four, five, six -

I draw another belly-breath

and count myself infinite.

Rain is falling, now,

from the heat-embroiled sky,

that roasted us dry

or basted us city-slick in our tumbled sheets -

and I count the drops in the thunderclaps,

see them dancing in the lightning

and think of hydrogen and oxygen - of atoms…

Seven, eight, nine,

I count them, too,

among the mysteries of life and death,

and draw another breath…


Clouds roll back like theatre curtains,

to display the magic beyond,

and one by one billion,

the stars come out -

so far removed in time and space

and yet,


to this insignificant place

where I’m counting constellations,

feeling the fire in my spirit rise to meet them,

recognising family…

I think of coal and diamonds

and carbon in my cells,

echoing long-lost stars that sparkle still…


I count them,

alongside me,

among the mysteries

of life and death -

counting on my fingers

one, two, three, to somewhere

beyond infinity…

I open my eyes and see

my abacus fingers,

lightly clasped in my lap.

Lightning strikes and I count

the pulse to the following thunderclap.

The curtain-clouds are rolling in again

and my spirit’s dancing to the rhythm of the rain...

Somewhere above me, beyond the sky,

stars are shining still

- and live and die -

and so do I,

counting on my fingers

my life time’s tiny span,

a decade each perhaps -

and every one a mystery,

a tiny drop

in the ocean of infinity.

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