Russell Shorto

The Taking

Air is your place. I feel
Your force there: open
Blue running through
My chest, the wind of
Your eyes, sky shifting
Forever behind them. I see
Clouds pass serenely
By your irises, and head
Into thought and oxygen.
Your soul is of air and I breathe
It in my sleep and eat it in
My dreams and live with it
All the days of my life.

Earth is your place. I dig
And find you there, where
You always have been, before
I was born: inside me, seed
Of gold and cinnamon, stick
Of flint and of tinder, my fire.
You don’t move—a corner
Of the planet is your conviction.
Your heart is of earth and I know
It like blood knows its vein,
I plant myself in it, give myself
To it, hold myself waiting
For the day you dig yourself
And find me for the taking.


About the Author

  I was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. I have three children (Anna, Eva and Anthony) and three step-children (Reinier, Hector and Benjamin).  I write books of narrative history; I believe history is most meaningful to us when it manifests itself through individuals in conflict. My books have been published in fourteen languages and have won numerous awards.  I am senior scholar at the New Netherland Institute and a contributing writer at the New York Times Magazine. My interests include the past, the present and the future, not necessarily in that order.  

photo by Keke Keukelaar