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They wore out the a
in the letterpress case only after
a few thousand hits under the inked rollers,
pulling the crank, turning
the giant wheel.

Must have been 1820. Thereabouts.
Wanderer, glory-run of letters: thereabouts.

Hunger took its due from
the belly of the a.
So? All kept reading it

as a — those who could read — and anyway,
a bite out of that apple proves
our kind mortal. Rare good paper
into page until most everything about the a
was shot. Practically prayer, humility,
a great foreboding not just
bare-bones frugal.

Simple aaaa from that a — 
First letter loved, to hear it ache and fill
even at half breath.

Look, it’s standard. No one but
a divine being or two makes perfect copy.

Real case in point: my now and again body so
poorly echoed off my mother, my father
out of a broken skull simmering
in a bog, BC probably, long before AD
pretended anything in order. Earlier, our whole
dark hole of a planet copied
unto itself via earthquake, flood, star shard,
raging molten ball in the middle, some
big bang’s idea
of a flawed, proper start.

For a while there, the tiny a
wounded. What it does.
Doing, to herald
every human sentence.

Source: Poetry (February 2015)

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of Poetry magazine

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