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Fine World

ISSUE:  Winter 1989

I give you the rain-washed streets of a medieval city
filled with pious folk on their way to evensong,
the bells ringing and the rooks wheeling
above the elms that line the cathedral square;
the pearly sky with salmon streaks in the west
is lit from far and open on endless silence.
In a narrow building on the north side of the square
a bright-haired girl sits reading alone in her room
till the light fails. As she reads

the words become a fine world
cast lightly across the sky of the mind
as eight hundred years ago when people
were simple and clear, full of belief
and clean as cobbles after all-day rain.
In her head the ghosts of bells
summon the faithful to an honest ritual,
twilight music, while in her mind’s clouds
eleven birds, black, describe long loops
above the patient trees beside the cooling church.

Very pleasant indeed. We have enjoyed her,
you and I, imagining her, imagining her imagining,
for she is sweetly simple, and her hair
is very beautiful as she leans to stir the fire,
her shadow dancing a moment on the wall.
And it was fun, in a melancholy way, to say
“the light fails”—yet now,
since she has shut her book, now
in the returning rattle of now, notice
that she is dead!—
          I mean,
she’s not alive the way you and I are alive,
scratching, scratching, scratching, densely organic;
and notice
that in this fine world (see above) there is
not much of a gritty handy tool
not much of a wrench or ratchet for
you and me
(I mean you and me)
closer together in this world,
THIS world—


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