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In Me as the Swans

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Not embittered   
even while freezing   
to the ice of their own lakes.   

The night I was leaving for Madrid   
into the noisy party a dazzling   
friend-of-a-friend walked in: I want so much   
(as a couple of kids on the dance floor want)   
to slow the tempo, hold there longer,   
to feel that seedly longing   
to be pressed into the soil,   
or that little lift the mothers get   
when stocking larders, even now,   
vestige of the primitive urge   
to be provided for and to provide.   

          I went alone to see that balcony   
in Verona, after the Roman dramas and luxuries   
above the Spanish Steps, when an elegant   
footman brought a pack of Reds on a silver   
tray and all but smoked them for you;   
after your towels had warmed in London’s best   
hotel, whose name I can’t remember and am kind of glad,   
glad now for the rest of empty August and   
the convent hostel’s eleven o’clock curfew,   
glad now when I go to the distinguished dinners   
that I have stood alone   
wondering at illuminated books,   
looking at Woolf’s spectacles under glass   
or standing under Bourgeois’s giant spider   
at the Tate—at times the best kept universe   
was my own, no interceding docents   
or guided tours, but a riverine serendipitous   
wandering—waif, naïf.

                   I liked the light enormously so why   
did I obey the bell that called me in?

Source: Poetry (March 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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In Me as the Swans

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