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Torch

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                                      when I beheld a fire
win out against a hemisphere of shadows.

                           —Inferno, Dante (tr. by Allen Mandelbaum)

If I could hold a fire against
a hemisphere of shadows, hold it
close, not so that damage
finds my hands, but so fire scatters
galvanizing strands, my pupils
responsive to the flames’ unbridled
tutelage as they tell me
nothing but these little jumps
out of your definitions, small
or large or leaping, sinking, slumped...
If I could hold a fire against
that latticework of shadows, standing
close to flames pivoting without
being singed or riveted or convinced
it is the only spirit, like a god,
making me something nailed to wood
then keep my head, then coolly draw
some backbone from that dazzle.

Source: Poetry (November 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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Torch

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