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Census


ISSUE:  Spring 2012

You come round
in reading, small shoulders
closer to heart’s core, making

a certain curve that echoes
the classic skull’s
forget-me-not repose

even as you may number
in your household each
new way to survive.

Meanwhile, an underground
scope spliced into the rehabbed
hedgehog’s that-much-less-

natural home, catches that other roller
into protective balls for
the first time on film: her lonely,

if safer, unfolding into dirt. Grunting
like a pig when she hunts,
or ruts, like us, hence the name.

A nest by any other calling
births the young up and out,
mimicking the move from rote

to places to where the mind
may find its office just as if
a mother’s sticks and jerryriggings

against cave-in could help us here,
but how far inside is best to see?
Take the dark space within

St. Jerome’s single empty slipper
tucked below a bench planed smooth
by the ancient master who etched

him reading with the hunched back, set lips,
and minnow darting eyes it takes
to invent a silence that lets

one human count for one human.
Well to be called private.
Individual, wanting

to be counted, funnels far forward
to short form, marking X
to indicate what she considers

herself to be.
Do I still have to kiss
the demographics,

pie and bar charts hedging
their one big thing,
and file exactly right just to be

chalked up as incarnate?
Happens that in mortal time,
the illegal “for sale” sign

signaled a condition from which
you might “know,” though not in the crush
of actual minutes that are taking time,

something about the early morning hours
my mother once shared
with a dead man.

He lived in the basement.
His world ended with the saying, darkness
becomes a light possessing darkness.

Morning she found him hunched over
his tea and toast, she saw him
first from behind, reading

from the angle of his head
that he was gone. One less wanting to be
counted, the florescent light

on, green ivy wallpaper etched on.
Paramedics knocked
him from the chair so that he

crumpled to the floor, making a thing
she didn’t have to see, but did.
Sense us, please, with summary

file, with population index, by
millions of names per mile, find us
even by the hairs of the head

that can rise in halo, that are numbered
in the thousands when a single strand
is enough to stir the sea.

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