A weekly poem, read by the author.
Jan. 10 2001 3:00 AM


The surface cool. No movement but the feeling
Of movement—until one lurches, caught.


Two children in a snow cave laughing.

Or in leaves. The valley unfolding
In the middle distance, vineyard, sheaves, and

The one—where is it?—of the rock, the field.
Wood bulldozed down and somewhere in the rubble

(Dark, never to be discovered) the book
We hid between the rafters and forgot about. For years—

Cold air blowing off the water, empty shells.

Men casting lines and catching—who could tell
From distances like these? The night

We walked almost the whole length
Of the city. Or slept unharmed

Beneath a blanket of smoke. The one—who else
Would know?—of water indistinguishable

From sky, the room behind us, unmade bed
—A book of photographs where

Something catches, then slips free.

                                                     The dead
Evaporating from the surface as we breathe. 

James Longenbach's most recent collection of poems is The Iron Key. Graywolf will publish a new prose book, The Virtues of Poetry, next year.



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