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Depth Perception

ISSUE:  Autumn 1991

In her notebook, she has changed all the breves
Into hemidemisemiquavers. It’s morning. It’s a
Shortened or lengthened life. Quick is a quiver of
Thin arrows in the photograph. The shutter was open
Only a second. It caught the right light that was
Needed. She remembers the day of her birth, the music
That was playing, sonnets set to black keys.
The guitarist’s strumming was greater than the sum
Of its sounds, its strings. Here’s the here and now,
And now here’s the now. In the last past was birth.
It was 1948, another year that wanted to mark
The end of hate. The dread war left the dead dead.
Her first words were prepositions: of, with, among.
And among the days since. And after the days
After. Motion backwards is delayed action.
Fraction is the line that makes the fraction.
She rode out the numerator, she was working
On the divisible, the denominator that would
Never be zero. With each intake of oxygen there
Is birth. Her electrolytes stay lit. The high
Wattage of human being. She thinks the birth
Of the cool, the urge of birth, the surge of years
Following. Today there’ll be no speed reading, raking
The leaves of pages into piles that burn for seconds,
For a few black seconds. The hours of birth stretch. Time
Was when metaphor could carry, could bring itself
To term. She remembers the Fertile Crescent, in
The first chapter, the rows of amphoras filled
With olive oil and wine. The apple continues to fall
From the same tree at the same speed, the speed
Of sound, the speed of talking softly on these
Nights when the hard edges break off, brittle,
Opposite the murmur of love, the throwing off
Of covers. If there is the day of birth there
Is conversely the birth of day. And the nightly
Eclipse of day ends with dawn, into colors that
Translate into sounds, rivers of sounds, the sounds
Of mountains. This she carries. The hours of day
Carried through the streets, through the house.
There, she is now in a photograph. It is always daylight.


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