Rude Mechanicals

The New Republic

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POEM MARCH 21, 2013

Rude Mechanicals

                            Against a white wall 
someone’s hair was a treetop, the body,
the trunk of a tree. It was a time 
when everyone said,
behind every great veil is only a human. 
If there was an overall ethos, it was 
self-forgetful guilt and sorrow was real 
enough. I don’t know how 
the stage curtain caught fire, she’d said. 
And I don’t how reluctance to act 
became a machine sucking air 
from every sulcus and Grand Canyon 
canyon. “Do you like air?” 
What could one say to that? 
I’ll have to think about it?
The waiter came by with the pepper mill.
The barman with his cocktail shaker.
The unsaid was becoming a picture 
of sand, land, and nothing. 
It was inevitable, she said, that she would 
someday stand behind bars 
at a window. She could imagine it: 
high above an ice-covered expanse 
otherwise covered with tin men 
and tin women and rude mechanicals. 
The noise, she was sure, would be awful.

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