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The Inns of Protest The airy, slow intercourse of a child, neither real nor bodiless as all this green aspiring out of a warm sequence of days in winter, is what I would call "mercy." And beyond that, the anticipation of solitude, the uprooted hedge at the harsh end of winter. There are so many of us. There is such a thing as pride. But anything involved with desire, like a small wound, like the sexy emptiness of the new jazz, reads only the one inscription over only the one object of desire, and prostrates itself before those feeble words. 1 know this, and so do you. Nothing is assembled from parts. Even the poor winter is of one piece, all that wreckage bound together in its rootless heart like the gypsy names of the last war. As poor a thing as winter is whole and loves just once. You and I remember that we drove out of a storm and found an inn named for a mineshaft and made love like children for the last time—slowly, not quite bodiless, but almost. I call that "mercy," an inn 27 diving out of the dark, a shaft of light as clear as the anticipation of solitude. I parsed the feeble inscription above your eyes and over the thin space of your mouth on the air. Mercy always waits until the last time. Mercy sees better than my loving eyes because it sees the terrible politics of losing everyone in the last war or the next war or to their necessary collaboration with time, that uprooted hedge. I am falling away from a vision. The air is a child. The birdsong is a music without brandy, merciless this time. 28 ...


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