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THIS IS THE WAY IT WILL BE / Jeanne Bernhard This is the way it will be Farmers stooping into squats and weighing a handful of dirt, a fistful of grain, an ear of corn A moment just like this Rain likely later this afternoon Look around and take note Choruses of clocks ticking, some even in unison Just as ordinary A baker shaping and smoothing bread dough patting it like a woman's thigh Just as anonymous A lion in chase skidding at the turn and the wildebeest bounding away gaining another chance Uncharted by astrologers, fortunetellers, soothsayers, medicine men A woman spooning sugar into coffee, edging a new moon of lemon peel into espresso, steeping the tea Uncalculated by religious scholars still counting backwards to origins The first snowdrop of the year unfolding or the first water lily or the last chrysanthemum Unpredicted by geologists, microbiologists, astrophysicists, psychiatrists Galaxies of asterionella diatoms cartwheeling through pond water Unclassified on intelligence computers at the CIA or KGB A man hearing that his lungs are swelling out with cancer, eaten away with TB, smoked shut with coal dust Not indicated, not even footnoted, in the UN report on world population A young woman watching between splayed knees the clockwise or counterclockwise whirlpool at the end of the bathtub So ordinary we never suspect A running child throwing back her head into liquid wind The Missouri Review So anonymous we never look up or out or away People waiting for a subway, for another light to take color, for someone to stop talking, for someone to speak This is the way it will be A man closing his eyes in delight on the first bite of stewed squid, fried grasshoppers, cold turkey A moment just like this So many asleep, jerking and grunting, sighing and murmurous, possessed by dreams more moving than wakefulness Are you looking and taking notes? An artist with brush heavy with cobalt blue paint standing suspended between the expectation and the actual glistening swath Just as brief The Secretary of State taking a shower with a stewardess Just as short of breath A family like black webbing turning away from a short ditch having laid death behind them So short-lived we never feel its pulse A porpoise nudging her calf higher through silvery waters to breathe So quick we never suppose it could be dissected from the next A child under a bush clasping his knees watching a red bird A moment just about to pass away A cook in a diner swatting at a fly with his spatula A more worthy one just beyond, if not quite here A phylum never discovered dropping beaded sacs of eggs This is the way it will be Flakes of snow blowing upward, hovering and spinning A moment just like this A squirrel kicking at lice Have you looked and taken note? A man in a mental hospital walking in circles, each circle with twenty-seven steps, each step counted aloud Jeanne Bernhard The Missouri Review ยท 89 Just as shapeless A young couple trying sex for the first time, his mouth opening to say oh my God oh Just as unplanned A middle-aged man having tried too many times shutting himself in the bathroom Nothing prettied up Women whose fingers are wrapped in tape rocking forward to snip off the heads of sardines, rocking backward to cut off the tails Nothing metaphoric A secretary ordering the cake for her wedding next Saturday Just itself People with white powders, grey leaves, white lightning easing themselves adrift Nothing here prepared us An old man just at death misunderstanding his fate Nothing here can contain this Bluegreen algae, parents to life, exhaling rising breaths of greening oxygen Even for prose this moment is too plain People, thousands of people, opening their mouths to sneeze, to belch, to lie Even for poetry this moment is too profound A woman weeps from the cold, for herself beside a dying mother, for a life long wasted, from hurtled stones Too many instructions for the Book of the Dead The oldest tortoise on the Galapagos Islands stretching out a neck corded and vined in the Triassic period...


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