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Thirty September

ISSUE:  Spring 2006

My Dear Sir—

As doubtless these words come unexpectedly
into your hands, allow me to introduce myself:
I too have searched the gravel bars
for stones in the shape of awls or spikes.
Imagine my surprise upon encountering,
this very afternoon, your bootprints there as well.
The river spills a tumbled, glittering hoard
at our feet: quartzite, fossils, scrolls of bark.
What strange object is being ferried even now
along the margin between weedbed
and current? Surely you, too, have walked
that paper-thin edge in a kind of reverie—
and to think I fancied myself alone!
Once, I came upon a shotgun half-sunk in mud.
The air about that moment vibrates still
with the shock of my discovery. Can you feel it?
I have seen two spear points side by side
on the trackless sand, the carcass of a goat
winched high in a sycamore branch by flood.
I did not seek them there, nor do I covet
those flakes of chert that can be made to skitter
toward the far bank with a hook of the wrist.
Let me leave no doubt as to my purpose:
I will go down on my hands and knees;
I will tan the back of my neck to leather,
but only for those rarer, impossibly unbroken
splinters, for the chance that one of these,
upon being cast into the air, will strike
the water’s surface like a dart and vanish.
I trust we share this particular enthusiasm,
that you are edified, and deeply so, by how
the river only then betrays itself and—sliding
past without a ripple or a splash—utters
(Can you hear it?) one syllable that rises
suddenly and then is swallowed by the muck.

Your Friend in the Art,


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