A Slim Volume Taken Into the Provinces

By Ed Roberson Ed Roberson
I have to leave early in the dark
and hungry to avoid
crossing the snow as the noon
 
burns the crust
into an un-servable lake
slush instead of the crisp bridge
 
that would be in order
to get me over the ridge
 
My journal is already laundered clean
of my words      and my instructions
have dissolved
 
into a white mash       a washed bone
ball         rolled into itself
of all I have in the world       in my pocket
 
 
The ink is thin the paper is poor
my eyes balance on the pale
words around which a stream
 
flows     almost erasing
the way across
the idea
 
Shadows         the black flowers
of the light self
-sowing through the trees
 
dark gardens        of midnight
for the gray-white morning
hour        of blindness
 
in print miles before I am
to arrive        here
 
To approach the waiting milestone
dims whatever else of its lantern
‘til only the placed light there is on me.
 
In this light       barely      but used to it
I can make out the staggered columns of my account
as if back through weren’t the real distance:
 
the thin chest flag pinned on by each ridge
the titled introduction taking your coat each storm.
 
 
My letters and ribbons have been the natural—
strengths on their way to the more—
natural weaknesses—         and loss.        yet—
 
I wonder where I thought I was going—
to ve done what you must pass
examinations for before I took any.

Ed Roberson, "A Slim Volume Taken into the Provinces" from To See the Earth Before the End of the World. Copyright © 2010 by Ed Roberson.  Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: To See the Earth Before the End of the World (Wesleyan University Press, 2010)

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Poet Ed Roberson

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, Life Choices, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Winter, Social Commentaries, Town & Country Life

Biography

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Roberson studied painting in his youth and was educated at the University of Pittsburgh. His extensive travels inform his work,which is also influenced by spirituals and the blues, and by visual art, such as the mixed-media collages of Romare Bearden. Poet and critic Michael Palmer has called Roberson “one of the most deeply innovative and critically acute voices of our time.”

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Life Choices, Activities, Travels & Journeys, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Winter, Social Commentaries, Town & Country Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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