As If

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POETRY FEBRUARY 20, 2013

As If

The massive, grimy river shouldered its way
toward the harbor. I stood under the ruckus of sky.

The wind plucked awnings, plastic bags, newspapers
and sent the news twirling over corduroy waters.

I’d meant to see art, but the plan miscarried.
A guitarist stationed in a doorway bent his head

to rasp his ballad into the wind’s
sore throat. Rainlight glossed the guitar strings

and played its own tune, this city such a storm of wants.
“You have a right to your actions,

but never to your actions’ fruits,” said Krishna
in a book I read, with all the etcetera

about desire and emptiness. What did I want
and why did I want it so hard? Not emptiness,

but a self like rain driven
aslant the fence, the hacked-at sycamore.

That morning, laid out on a marble slab at the store,
the exposed red knob of a fish’s heart kept its pulse

in the butchered half-creature— no gills,
no head, no fins, no guts, no tail—

just the flat half-body and spine
and the heart blurping and shuddering in its own

obstinate rhythm. As if, it seemed to say,
as if, you idiot, you ever could be free.

 

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