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Ghost Poem

ISSUE:  Fall 2009

Here is my solitary city. This island of steel
and avenue. Towers with skeletons of organ

pipes that pierce the clouds’ flocking, but I
can’t find the keys and predators are behind

the doors. In the park, the statues of foxes
still stand. Their plinths cracked by roots

of dwarf ebonies, and Pallas cormorants nest
in their jaws. The sky broke through the aviary’s

roof and the swifts all went to sea or went
invisible. My church’s windows house zeros.

Its obelisks illegible from ivy. Every fence,
every wall was left standing, but ladders from

that day lean against them. The watchlights
have run, finally, out of fuel, and the grass

gone wild. This is my city. This island of iron.
Now, the fountain sprays for the packs of dogs,

I haven’t slept well since, and I might be
sorry. There were never crocodiles before,

but now they’ve come. Jackrabbits live
in the foundry’s moldings, the nights are full

of wind, and I might regret my part in it.
But peonies grow in the belltower, and I can’t

see my feet for all the irises, bowing when
I pass. I am waiting for the buildings to fall.

Yesterday I saw a red-crested crane—they’ve
been gone for over a hundred years. Here

is my city, anew. This island of fur and bark.
Seas break the same, but now the ferns

and dandelions have returned and the crocodiles
are still sleeping. Sometimes I miss their

voices, but last night I heard the swifts. Full
of their thousand wings, I heard the sky.


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