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Tarp

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I have seen the black sheets laid out like carpets
under the trees, catching the rain

of  olives as they fell. Also the cerulean brightness
of   the one covering the bad roof

of  a neighbor’s shed, the color the only color
inside the winter’s weeks. Another one

took the shape of   the pile of   bricks underneath.
Another flew off the back of a truck,

black as a piano if a piano could rise into the air.
I have seen the ones under bridges,

the forms they make of sleep. I could go on
this way until the end of the page, even though

what I have in my mind isn’t the thing
itself, but the category of   belief that sees the thing

as a shelter for what is beneath it.
There is no shelter. You cannot put a tarp over

a wave. You cannot put a tarp
over a war. You cannot put a tarp over the broken

oil well miles under the ocean.
There is no tarp for that raging figure in the mind

that sits in a corner and shreds receipts
and newspapers. There is no tarp for dread,

whose only recourse is language
so approximate it hardly means what it means:

He is not here. She is sick. She cannot remember
her name. He is old. He is ashamed.



Source: Poetry (May 2013)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Poetry magazine

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Tarp

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