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A neon sign is blinking on & off & it's raining & the cars are going by, the kids are watching TV & eating donuts, the phone's ringing & I'm looking out the window from the edge of my bed. I help a stranger carry a package up the stairs. It's the webbing in my hand that hurts in the afterglow. It's the attachment of my body to people & things that causes anxiety in the rush of memory. You can't let go without breaking something. The earth is no more dense than water & things fall through it & disappear. Into this mesh of days you made an entrance that consisted of fragments of all the flowers & their names, you entered without bowing to anyone but yourself, without casting an aside to your reflection in the full-length mirror. For a moment, I thought of you as out of reach, insinuating vague polarities without replenishing the chains. Our history had not yet started, so to speak. You took your seat in a class, among others. When I asked you your name I forced you to say it again. "Can everyone hear in the back?" I shouted. At night, I drafted a kiss but it emerged as a forgery on skin that was already coated with petals. But once the fog lifted I regaled in the regrets of a new equilibrium for which there were no witnesses. And when I finished reading there was no applause, only a cry from the balcony, as in a cheap restaurant, for "seconds." The man behind the counter taught Latin in his homeland, but circumstances had reduced him to a purveyor of cold cash. The heart hardens at the thought of promises unkept & solutions with pickets to hoist over stones. One imagines oneself in the center of a strange city, on a planet preoccupied with dirt & amusement, the transfiguration of sound particles (as in a liturgy) into sanctified space. "If the earth fits, if the shoe fits . . ." but memory is effortless. Here's a sponge to wipe off the crumbs of denial, an emerald occasion.

Lewis Warsh is the author of several books of poems, including Dreaming as One, Blue Heaven, and Information from the Surface of Venus, as well as two novels, Agnes and Sally and A Free Man. He is the publisher of United Artists Books and editor of The World (the literary magazine of The Poetry Project).
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Author:Warsh, Lewis
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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