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SCRAPBOOK

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Green and brown current of river:
Reverberant iron bridge: crossing over,
Woman and child fixed at the center,
Holding hands and both weeping:

Because her child is weeping: because
His mother weeps: because the river, far
Underfoot, glitters through cracks
In the wooden flooring that widen

Perceptively as he steps.
Ahead, heightened by a hill, dwarfed
In yellow trees, the house is made ready.
All should have been primer-perfect,

Including the train rushing headlong
Past the station, always in arrears,
Never deigning to stop and put down
A stepping-stool. Nothing more is given:

Except perhaps an assignment of cause:
A plank has fallen away to the river.
The two figures clasp hands across the gulf,
Rocking back and forth in soundless

Oscillation there on the bridge
Where my mind proposes to leave them
In place, my mother and me,
On the first day of school, 1921.

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the September 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

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SCRAPBOOK

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