Explication of an Imaginary Text

By James Galvin b. 1951 James Galvin
Salt is pity, brooms are fury,
The waterclock stands for primordial harmony.

The spruce forest, which is said to be
Like a cathedral
Indicates proliferation of desire.

The real meaning of the beginning
Will not become clear until later, if ever.

Things no longer being what they were,
Artifice poses as process,
The voice is tinged with melancholy.

The teacup, the brass knuckles, and the pearl-handled razor
Resist interpretation

As if to say
That half the wind is in the mind
And half in the mind of the wind.

Speaking through the character
Who comes to faith on his deathbed,

The author makes apology
For saying things he didn’t mean.
Little girl-cousins with ribbons in their hair

Confuse him with their names and are carried away
By laughter. Thus,

The force of love comes from belief,
Hate is from lack of doubt.
Paradox by paradox the narrative proceeds

Until half the stars are absolute tears.
The other half are mirrors.

James Galvin, “Explication of an Imaginary Text” from Resurrection Update: Collected Poems 1975-1997. Copyright © 1997 by James Galvin. Used by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

Source: Resurrection Update (Copper Canyon Press, 1997)

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Poet James Galvin b. 1951

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 James  Galvin

Biography

James Galvin is the author of several collections of poetry, including Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975–1997 and X (2003); a novel, Fencing the Sky (1999); and The Meadow (1992), a prose meditation on the landscape of the Wyoming-Colorado border and the people who live there.

Galvin’s work is infused with the genuine realities of the western landscape, while at the same time not shirking difficult questions of faith, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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