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in that country we live only a day, how
slow the hours of each season. How we find
in each lingering now all moments
just as you once found in the cloud
of death one leaf of joy, and in that leaf
a rain of laughter within which lay
one hidden scream, unflowered. And while
in the spring of one morning a woman
watches tulips open and thinks of a man,
if you were to enlarge her invisible reach
you might see along the skin of her arms
thousands of tiny dice, and within
the black marks of each die, the turning
stars. And if you were to tape the birdsong
of that country, then play it back at an
infinitely slower speed, you would hear
within each silver chirp something like
the wheels of an enormous train rushing
toward an ocean you can't see but smell.
Mark Irwin is the author of nine collections of poetry, including A Passion According to Green (2017), American Urn (Selected Poems 1987-2014), Tall If (2008), and Bright Hunger (2004). His collection of essays, Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry, appeared in 2017. He is a professor in the Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California.
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