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Covert: (It Is a Sunny Midwinter Afternoon)
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Covert
(It Is a Sunny Midwinter Afternoon)

We must understand what happened ishappening. The colossus stands before us with its signaturepre-emptivity. It glints. It illustrates. At my feet the shadows of the winterdeadbushes wave their windburnt spiky stalks. They pitch. They flock. Their non-deracinated clusters play in wind’s        gem-cut ex-foliations on the patio-stone—greyblack bush flush with        separations, reparations, greys and yet other        greys, all agreement and dis-        agreement, no gladness, no        incipience, though        sassy and also lasso-        full ofthe antic self-promoting chop and slip of blossoming—and different sizedheads—and in them leaves, flowers, young shoots, burgeonings—you’d say        those are summery-blue flies        that shadow-spraythe loaded void-consuming outriders, dividings—rhythms wide—and solvent—and everywhere        triumph of gladnessand innocence—rattle of stalk, furl-poised into actual cold and then no poise, no,heavy dip into grace, what place is this, in winter’s mutter and rattle, this roost        of warmth’s fat qualifying,        whirling—horizonline disappearing into them where        sky is shodwith riptide of demigodlike prods, and quicknesses of bud, clip, nod, about-to-electrify-opening pods—oh turn aside. Hush now [End Page 145] says the future tense, unploughed and proud of how deeply unexplored it is.When I look up again what is the winterdead bushto me. This is how something happens but what.Inside the toddlers bend over and tap. They cannot yetwalk or talk. They sit on the floor one in the high chair. They wait.They tap but make no sound. The screen they peer        down into waiting is        too slow. The trick        doesn’t happen        fast enough. They are waiting forthe unbearable reflection of their ownface to disappear and be replaced by the quick game.It invites them to be completely taken in.If you speak to them, they don’t look up. Look up! They are in the pitfall. You know this        is true you        have your reasons.The truth doesn’t happen fast enough.The heads move in a sudden breeze.The wilderness grows giddy with alternatives.On the warm stone, they ribbon—rollcall of        greys, all meanwhile, servile, alletceteras ephemeras—entrails thralls splays—I        stand my feet in it.It lies on me. Scribbles prehensile, febrile. Midsummer-full. I watch mynaked feet take blossoming without a traceof feeling. It feels good. As long as I can see it it feelsgood—years, invasions, legends—a thing with something at its heart—it moves the way life moves absent of will—the wind defines what’s happening here—I call a name out—just to check—I don’t expect the answer I don’t get—from the purple jumpsuit in there, small elephant on it. There will be        ivory, there        will be        trinkets.        I was talkingabout the logo. The logo on the jumpsuit. If you tryto rebuild the world you will go crazy. Come outside.Leave them be in there in the new crease in time.Come out take off your shoes as if to the beloved.Imagine—this is the future. The shadows will tell you [End Page 146] if you are naked. They will teach you logic and reason.They will tell you if you are cowardly.What did you do when the world was ending. No, itwas not ending it was evolving. In the interglacial lull.Before the collapse. They look down into the screen. I can heara towee make two notes then stop. Can hear, further off,a woodpecker search the hollow. Tap. A silencewhich goes in way too deep is filling up this valley now.Tap tap. Seeking the emptiness. What breeds in it festering.That shall be its nourishment. The whole valley echoes. Tap.And a single engine plane like a blender: when it goes by the sky is much smoother.And the brook running through. When wind dies down—there it is. [End Page 147]

Jorie Graham

Jorie Graham lives in Massachusetts and teaches at Harvard. Her poems have been widely translated, including into German, Spanish, Italian, Albanian, Polish...



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