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Mark Doty - A Display Of Mackeral

They lie in parallel rows,
on ice, head to tail, 
each a foot of luminosity 
barred with black bands,
which divide the scales'
radiant sections 

like seams of lead
in a Tiffany window.
Iridescent, watery 

prismatics: think abalone,
the wildly rainbowed
mirror of a soap-bubble sphere, 

think sun on gasoline.
Splendor, and splendor, 
and not a one in any way 

distinguished from the other
--nothing about them
of individuality. Instead 

they're all exact expressions
of the one soul,
each a perfect fulfillment 

of heaven's template,
mackerel essence. As if, 
after a lifetime arriving 

at this enameling, the jeweler's
made uncountable examples
each as intricate 

in its oily fabulation
as the one before;
a cosmos of champleve. 

Suppose we could iridesce,
like these, and lose ourselves
entirely in the universe 

of shimmer--would you want
to be yourself only,
unduplicatable, doomed 

to be lost? They'd prefer,
plainly, to be flashing participants,
multitudinous. Even on ice 

they seem to be bolting
forward, heedless of stasis.
They don't care they're dead 

and nearly frozen,
just as, presumably,
they didn't care that they were living: 

all, all for all,
the rainbowed school
and its acres of brilliant classrooms, 

in which no verb is singular,
or every one is. How happy they seem,
even on ice, to be together, selfless, 

which is the price of gleaming.

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Poet: Mark Doty
Poem: A Display Of Mackeral
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