The literate are ill-prepared for this
snap in the line of life:
the day turns a trick
of twisted tongues and is
untiable, the month by no mere root
moon-ridden, and the yearly eloquences yielding more
than summer’s part of speech times four. We better learn

the buried meaning in the grave: here
all we see of its alphabet is tracks
of predators, all we know of its tense
the slow seconds and quick centuries
of sex. Unletter the past and then
the future comes to terms. One late fall day
I stumbled from the study and I found
the easy symbols of the living room revised:

my shocked senses flocked to the window’s reference
where now all backyard attitudes were deep
in memory: the landscapes I had known too well-
the picnic table and the hoe, the tricycle, the stubborn
shrub-the homegrown syllables
of shapely living-all

lay sanded and camelled by foreign snow…

Analysis, meaning and summary of Heather McHugh's poem Stroke

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