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from the November 2005 issue

The Prelude

A boy stood on a narrow balcony
in the afternoon: autumn was moving
through a labyrinth of dishwashing and cigarette smoke.

Pines and starlings made quick imitations
of one another: a long grey zone in stripes
and dots; worthless lyrics in a bottom drawer
or sometimes even lower when it was a dream
in which he was being led by a stiff old hand
through levels of hum or rustle - who remembers?

It was afternoon. Nothing special.
No material for poems, just unfinished emotions
and leaves falling out of the night's sleeve
onto a mirror-image of last year's lawn,
against the tide of something bigger, an elevation
of things. And the boy's shyness: he did not mind
sovereign space, the wind maneuvering in tree-tops
like a relatively poor metaphor, or maybe the metaphor
was accurate but life didn't live up to it?

An institute of leaves, no doubt. And you were climbing
from twig to twig, step by step, into an unexpected explosion
of spring sun as at the other side
of the poem and of the gravel dream
it was April, narrow like a child's hand
when he is feeding a guinea pig in a corner of a room.
It was getting quieter at night as if rain was decoded.
The future carried postponed words
and scattered them here and there.
And the boy was just walking and catching,
and nothing else mattered.

For the next poem in this sequence, click here.

Read more from the November 2005 issue
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