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What I Have

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Twelve dollars sixty cents,
& the fact that there is no blood no storm
can’t wash into dirt, that the time for these words
             is already ended,
that for all the rain that has been here before
so have I.
          & there is less water in the world
than a famous woman once said, & I know that,
          & that the stars in the river
also are real I also know, for they disappear also
& refuse also to be touched. & I have touched

            bare things, & it works—
it can be the sole unbraided moment in a life—
but even so, what better days look like to me is still
            the tiny gore
of heartbreak, & long walks with small shoes
            that can’t be taken off,
& schools in a city I love that put molded cages
            over their clocks,
because that works too to remind us
we are not ready. & the worst of all is anything that
            stays as it is

                     when touched.
At lunchtime a woman famous for her ability
to praise the ineffable
                      says she can’t believe anyone returns
to where they came from.
            But of course they do. In fact
some do nothing else. & what is it they leave behind?
            Perhaps not the meaning of time,
but the time of meaning, & the fact that whatever
happens, tomorrow
                      will change it.

Source: Poetry (March 2009)

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

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What I Have

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