Bruce Boston

Far beneath the crust of Earth,
beyond the mantle, within its bowels,
in burrowed caves and tunnels

dimly lighted by an edible fungus, 
a race of Elementals thrives.
Gnomes by name, hunched,

dark diminutive creatures,
their language only grunts
and gestures, their hands

and fingers and teeth so strong
they can dig not only through
hard-packed dirt but solid rock.

They take their mates for life
and realize their desires in
dark side tunnels stripped

of the luminescent fungus.
There they find a sleep
like death until it is time

to start digging again.
As their new tunnels grow,
the old collapse behind.

Gravity claims its own
in broken passages.
There is no going back.

When the last of their kind
vanish from the bowels
of the Earth, when the last

of their tunnels collapse,
there will be nothing
left of them at all.

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