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  • Meditation on Mimesis
  • Dean Rader (bio)

Cy Twombly, Poems to the Sea (1959)

The tree outside    my windowlooks exactly        like a tree.

Out the back window,    the ocean        resembles a photograph of a cloudy sky    minutes after rain.            If I close my eyes I can see the ocean        better than if they were open.        Is it possible never to know exactly what we see?

    When the dawn-lean light leansagainst the limbs        of the dead    boxwood at the end [End Page 87]     of the street,        it is easy to imagine.    How deep can one gointo an idea?            The color        of nature    is green,    even though so        much is not.

Is any symbol not aspirational?            Is anything ever really empty?    Once the great desert was a great ocean.Can you see it?        Things, says Kant,    which we see are not by themselves    what we see.        How deep can one swim            into what one is not?

        How long does the wind spend            sharpening its knives? [End Page 88]             My alien craft has nowhere to land        and so it has set down in the    unexplained …    A fisherman will spend an entirelife gazing at what he cannot see,        and yet he is not blind.

            The plovers gatheron the sand like a memory,            and yet the waves have not once recalled the grass.        Science, says Plato,    is nothing but perception.       What do we know            of that which is not inside? [End Page 89]

Dean Rader

dean rader is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow in Poetry. His most recent books include Suture, poems written with Simone Muench; Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence, edited with Brian Clements and Alexandra Teague; and Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry. He is a professor at the University of San Francisco.



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pp. 87-89
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