By David Orr David Orr

Lepisosteus osseus

Despite it all, something stirs at the sight
Of the cool, enameled body,
The unreflecting eye,
And the long jaw like a chisel
With its single, violent purpose.

It hangs dead still at the water's surface
And seems lifeless, until
A flickering gesture
Carves fish after fish
From any school that swims too close

And creates in the world a new absence,
As if this might be the shaper
As well as the defacer
Of the damaged masterpiece
Whose headless body hails the bodies

Of the many Egyptians excised at Cyprus.

Source: Poetry (December 2007).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2007
 David  Orr


David Orr writes the column “On Poetry” for the New York Times Book Review. He is the author of Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry (HarperCollins, 2011).

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SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, War & Conflict

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