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ISSUE:  Summer 1978

        for Susan Weston

Here are the surfaces of things:
    I take this shape in my hands.
    Turn it over. It is a brown seed: huge,
    its hide an elephant’s hide,
    grey-brown where the elephant has rolled in mud,
    bruised grey-purple where skin
    was hammered in rock falls.

It is a brain
    quartered by slick indented
    bands of grey stuff.
    I hold it in the palm of my hand:
    a small human brain.

Easier this way:
    the touch of something impersonal
    that passes from hand to hand,
    a rub of flesh against gray seed.

    Gray hairy shapes
    frozen in Siberian ice,
    Or a profile of the brain,
    the skull sectioned,
    its thin layer of skin
    pulled back into flaps.

Now an overlap of oils,
    not fingerprints exactly,
    but a kind of knowledge
    dries on the hard skin of the thing.

Here is the passage I will not write:
    a privacy.
    It is unrelated to this seed or its images.
    It is an intrusion of feeling
    closed off from the page.
    I contain it, like skin over a strange shape.

On the back of the seed is a place of attachment,
    not quite a navel, more of an eye:
    It is the pupil of a sculptured eye
    drilled through thick elephant hide, thin skull,
    directly into the embryo brain.
    If it were not for the shadow of my head over the drilled
    I could see the foetal mind,
    its voluptuous curves, its dreaming
    toward desire.

Then I pass the seed on,
    still damp from the sweaty touch of my hand.
    I study the palm of my hand,
    testing something,
    as I try for the weight of its absence.


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