Town, a town,
Over which the sun as it comes to it;
Which cools, houses and lamp-posts,
during the night, with the roads—
Inhabited partly by those
Who have been born here,
Houses built—. From a train one sees
him in the morning, his morning;
Him in the afternoon, straightening—
People everywhere, time and the work
One moves between reading and re-reading,
The shape is a moment.
From a crowd a white powdered face,
Eyes and mouth making three—
Near your eyes—
Love at the pelvis
Reaches the generic, gratuitous
(Your eyes like snail-tracks)
We slide in separate hard grooves
Bowstrings to bent loins,
Your spiral women
By a fountain
Your picture lasts thru us
Thick with succession of civilizations;
And the women.
No interval of manner
Your body in the sun.
You? A solid, this that the dress
Your face unaccented, your mouth a mouth?
It is you who truly
Excel the vegetable,
The fitting of grasses—more bare than
Pointedly bent, your elbow on a car-edge
Incognito as summer
‘O city ladies’
Your coats wrapped,
Your hips a possession
Your shoes arched
Your walk is sharp
Pertain to lingerie
The fields are road-sides,
Rooms outlast you.
The cars pass
By the elevated posts
And the movie sign.
A man sells post-cards.
It brightens up into the branches
And against the same buildings
His job is as regular.
George Oppen, “Town, a town ... (from ‘Discrete Series’)” from New Collected Poems. Copyright © 1985, 2002 by Linda Oppen. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.
Source: New Collected Poems
(New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2002)