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Reginald Shepherd - Even This

At that time I didn't understand
snow, the absence inside July,
water and what holds the water
in. Heard "It takes more than a forest

to make a tree" in no one's voice. By then
the word meridian was extinct, echo
without a face to place it, make it
stay. Birds' theories of heat

hunch humid air
flat. Sparrows, finches, wrens,
and chickadees, their bodies
move too quickly through it

and exhaust their element: drop
like Coke cans and smoked-down cigarettes
beside the berm. Natter of bees
above new garbage cans
 
and wasps' happenstance
in chewed-paper air, fringe
of summer selves festooning
Halsted Street: I fall prey

to prey, a catch just the size
of my blind eye. The visual
is punctuated with interruptions,
handwritten paragraph of place

signing the bodies with sight
and mesh tank tops. Keep walking
and the lake finds you, keep walking
into teal strewn with fluorescent

orange lifeguards, random Adams
in rowboats and baggy trunks. Keep
walking, let bygods be bygods, Saint
Sisyphus, Saint Tantalus, Saint Ixion

of the Ferris wheel. Who could lift those fallen
concrete slabs flourished with boys'
unlikely chosen names? Cartouche
and petroglyph, etch and unetch: the lake

beards artificial rocks with blue
-green algae, names them
its own. Sunlight sticks to my skin, contagious
radio, fine sheath of heat and the beginning

of exposure: an immature ring-billed gull
run over by a biker, jogger, roller
-blader, then waved aside, papier-mâché
piecework shuffled into gray

retaining wall, shored-up cement reef
at Hollywood Beach with the rebars
pushing through the grain. We step around
it on our way to water which made us,

makes up our minds for us: no salt
but other minerals, lake absence
makes the shape of things.
And also in Arcadia.

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Poet: Reginald Shepherd
Poem: Even This
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