by Richard Epstein

This is the bark which used to be
A functioning face. You see the stream?
A nymphet breathing. Things who seem
Alive are, mostly, differently.
What if your hand were once a rock,
Your friends narcissi, your heart a clock?

No, wait. That doesn’t count, the beat
Mechanical, no fur, no bone,
No pollen making the chime repeat.
What if you were left all alone,
Never a maple, never a creek,
The lone indigenous antique?

Love your armchair. Sleep with your bed.
Praise the sky for distance. Or wait.
You may be someone else instead,
Son of the streetlight, child of the late
God who transformed your mom to coal
And burned her breast to warm his soul.


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