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Full Fathom

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& sea swell, hiss of   incomprehensible flat: distance: blue long-fingered ocean and its
                                                                                                 nothing else: nothing in the above visible except
                                                                                                 water: water and
always the white self-destroying bloom of   wavebreak &, upclose
                                                                                                 roil, &
                                                                                                 here, on what’s left of   land,   
ticking of   stays against empty flagpoles, low tide, free day, nothing
                                                                                                 being
                                                                                                 memorialized here today — memories float, yes,
over the place but not memories any of   us now among the living
                                                                                                 possess — open your
hands — let go the scrap metal with the laughter — let go the
                                                                                                 upstairs neighbor you did not
                                                                                                 protect — they took him
                                                                                                 away — let go how frightened you knew he was all
along while you went on with your
                                                                                                 day — your day overflowing with time and
place — they came and got him — there are manners for every kind of
                                                                                                 event — he stopped reading and looked up
                                                                                                 when they came in — didn’t anyone tell you
you would never feel at home — that there is a form of   slavery in everything — and when was it
                                                                                                 in   your admittedly short
                                                                                                 life you
were permitted to believe that this lasted
                                                                                                 forever — remove   your   hands
from your pockets — take out that laundry list, that receipt for
                                                                                                 everything you
                                                                                                 pawned last night — decide whom to blame —
                                                                                                 stick to your
story — exclude expectation of   heavenly
                                                                                                 reward — exclude
                                                                                                 the milk of
human kindness — poisoned from the start — yes — who ever expected that
to be the mistake — with all the murderers and miracle workers — with the hovering
                                                                                                 spidery
                                                                                                 fairy tales — kites, angels, missiles, evening
papers, yellow stars — clouds — those were houses that are his eyes — those were lives that
                                                                                                 are his
eyes — those are families, those are privacies, those are details — those are reparation
                                                                                                 agreements, summary
                                                                                                 judgments, those are multiplications
on the face of   the earth that are — those are the forests, the coal seams, the
                                                                                                 carbon sinks that are his —
                                                                                                 as they turn into carbon sources — his —
and the festering wounds that are — and the granary that burned — and the quick blow
                                                                                                 administered to make it
                                                                                                 painless, so-
                                                                                                 called — his eyes his   yes   his blows his seed’s first
                                                                                                 insertion into this our only soil —
                                                                                                 &   the flower, the cut
                                                                                                 flower in my
                                                                                                 bouquet here,
made from the walk we took this morning, aimless, as if   free,
                                                                                                 where you asked me to
                                                                                                 marry you, &   the loaf   of
barley, millet and wheat I was able,
                                                                                                 as a matter of course, to bring to the table, fresh-
                                                                                                 baked,
                                                                                                 in life.

Source: Poetry (February 2008)

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

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Full Fathom

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