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their small emotions
grating on sound, their vowels siphoning
history. —Or tomorrow reaching
its dusk sleeve. “Hello, Hi, Please,”
I once said, trying to open flesh with ghost-sounds
threading themselves through
infinity, the knot of past
voices choiring while I try to gobble
its babble in memory. One July we drank a glass
of water then set it down
in the god-heat of grass. Ants, gnats, and a stunned moth
remind the dumb math
of years, the tacit
hours and how the pronoun I keeps
fraying, digging like a mole through smells: sweat
on a watch band, a scarf, or sock
scouting a drawer. Some old cards the cat
pulls down. On a shirt the wrong
button you sewed now casually
chatting with some ashes I keep postponing to loose
in the wind of your fled
laughter, clear, jetting forth, syllabic, unrehearsed and taller
than any grief.
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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