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Covert: (It Is a Sunny Midwinter Afternoon)
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We must understand what happened is
happening. The colossus stands before us with its signature
pre-emptivity. It glints. It illustrates. At my feet the shadows of the winterdead
bushes 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 of
the antic self-promoting chop and slip of blossoming—and different sized
heads—and in them leaves, flowers, young shoots, burgeonings—you’d say
        those are summery-blue flies
        that shadow-spray
the loaded void-consuming outriders, dividings—rhythms wide—and solvent—and everywhere
        triumph of gladness
and 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,
horizonline disappearing into them where
        sky is shod
with riptide of demigodlike prods, and quicknesses of bud, clip, nod, about-to-
electrify-opening pods—oh turn aside. Hush now
says the future tense, unploughed and proud of how deeply unexplored it is.
When I look up again what is the winterdead bush
to me. This is how something happens but what.
Inside the toddlers bend over and tap. They cannot yet
walk 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 for
the unbearable reflection of their own
face 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, all
etceteras ephemeras—entrails thralls splays—I
        stand my feet in it.
It lies on me. Scribbles prehensile, febrile. Midsummer-full. I watch my
naked feet take blossoming without a trace
of feeling. It feels good. As long as I can see it it feels
good—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
        I was talking
about the logo. The logo on the jumpsuit. If you try
to 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
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, it
was not ending it was evolving. In the interglacial lull.
Before the collapse. They look down into the screen. I can hear
a towee make two notes then stop. Can hear, further off,
a woodpecker search the hollow. Tap. A silence
which 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.

Jorie Graham  

Jorie Graham lives in Massachusetts and teaches at Harvard. Her poems have been widely translated, including into German, Spanish, Italian, Albanian, Polish and Chinese. They have also been the recipients of numerous awards, among them The Pulitzer Prize, The Forward Prize...

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