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Harriet Brown - The Terrible Permanence of Objects, and: The Origin of Longing, and: How the Mind Works - Prairie Schooner 80:2 Prairie Schooner 80.2 (2006) 93-95

The Terrible Permanence of Objects, and: The Origin of Longing, and: How the Mind Works

The Terrible Permanence of Objects

A curse, a curse
on the objects that remain –

this necklace
your wedding gift

each pearl's face
iridescent and closed

from a day when you
were still in the world

shining, my heart,
the string running through me.

The Origin of Longing

Her body's flush and swoon
set long ago

like grooves carved
by an urgent needle [End Page 93]

more brilliant than anything
that followed – bone, tears,

the soft, stuttering cry
of a child's body –

a shattering, sweet lightning
that wrote its name

on everything it touched,
reducing it to scratched wax

on a hopeless track,
a broken record

waiting for the prick
of the needle, the pause,

the staticky, thrilling start
of the same old song.

How the Mind Works

Lapping and overlapping waves
crash and slap and leave behind

miles of trash and sand.
Slipping on surfaces, watch

for maps that lead somewhere else.
What happens is always happening [End Page 94]

and happened – endless rapprochement
of past and present, stopgap,

all covered over, uncovered
so many times only the odd

bits show: an apple core,
a cardboard flap, a mystery

package poking up, a hand.
What's buried: the bone

of things, hard, unchanging,
impervious to rain and rot,

no loose change but
the clap of something true.

Harriet Brown's poems appear in Poetry, North American Review, and the Atlantic Review. She also writes about science for the New York Times and other national publications.

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