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Not a wall but the surface across which the room is projected.
Warmth and light and radio static surround your shadow—picture
a winter finch’s tracks, stitches in snow, last February’s hold.
Here we cannot pass without outline or distinction.
And if a train were possible it would seem to float from the trees
behind the block, pass through either window, and arrive restless
once we are dreaming. But things seldom enter our sleep
and some small part of a waking plan, the way a droning coal train
or a robin lifting out of a bath can inhabit a phrase in the pianist’s
improvisation or the assassin’s choice of socks (red)
on a morning that turns out too misty for truth in his aim.
If a train were possible the metaphors, the figures—the projections—
would have to collapse. We’d call things what they are
and question our sense of direction in the life-size atlas.
Not a wall but a plain, a vastness, leading to an abrupt horizon,
where the room’s focus shifts: not a door so much as a feeling
of starting out, the impetus for painting the inside surface
cumulonimbus in sunset. A notion of distance. Plum was too earthy
for your form never fumbling with the glass knob, a sort of early star.
Pass with me following, closely, into outside, innocuous
misnomer that will facilitate our escape. We’ll wind through a series
of woods and clearings toward anonymity: sidewalks shining
at windows, all things below sky shining back. We will
leave the vehicle for thieves to strip and burn, we will walk
into a nightlife of gorgeous mistakes. By way of heat rising
over asphalt, feet lifting from that rougher surface, the sanguinity
unfolding inside a new city. If a train were possible we could stay.
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Both regulators and employers have embraced new technologies for on-the-job monitoring, turning a blind eye to unjust working conditions.
But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.