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The Passage

Mornings always remind me of
somewhere else I’ve been—
muggy five a.m. in July,
Providence, Rhode Island,
small, incongruous smell of smoke
wham Amazon rainforest
rackety crows like macaws
on a perch pole next the lodge.

The human mind is the icing on its cake,
the way we cheat things into order,
peeling off and correctly replacing
the colored stickers on a puzzle cube.
Sort of satisfying solution, best enjoyed
alone in one’s room, like shouting
your anthem over another, insensible song.

As my mother always says,
“As your grandmother always said,
this too shall pass
wishful attribution of stock phrase
like putting your hand
over your mouth
to silence your own breathing
in a vacuum

or not (you can tell a non-man-
made lake by its roundness).

As ancient figural lines
can only be seen from the sky,
we design what we can’t apprehend.
So what if the world were
to reveal its formatting
as in Word—returns and
vectors bristling every
which way? You’d freeze
for fear of impalement.

When a tree falls in tropical forest
everything leans, shoots,
and the hole grows
from the outside-in,
annulling itself with lushness.

And unlike other kinds of former holes
(crystal-filled caves, those darned
in socks) it truly ceases to be,
rather than its own antithesis.

This insatiable appetite
for description—ding
nailed it
the moment
the light’s no match for the lid

what we used to call the human condition.

____
Kate Colby is author of four collections of poetry, including The Return of the Native (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011) and Beauport (Litmus Press, 2010). Her first collection, Fruitlands, won the Norma Farber First Book Award in 2007. She lives in Providence, RI.

 

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