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Heather McHugh

Some driven river
under things,
some sinistration,
(never a right turn),
some badtogether
bonaparte, both hands
inside her shirt, made life
unspeakably worthwhile. Worth her

while, anyway-- not just the
while of the whilers away.
(Away they thought
rock-rightness overruled
the streamers for a reason.
Away they loved
a leisure, and a crowd with one
mind--not a man with hands that,
hidden, could be ten for all
she felt there, out
of sight-- or twelve, by moon
and sundays: man-told many
hands, the kind
you couldn't tell
a time--or count--on.)

Once the jointer cut
the neighbor's fingers off
nothing could stop the low flows,
lifelong, of his mutter. Data
dazzled all the houses on the block;
a woman can bestow it if she wants-- it goes
like looking out from eyeholes, goldens every
bad pink porch or good bored dog.
It fills the middling emptiness and teases
kibble-dishes, turns a corner
in seconds flat. Your flat

is my togetherment, and your apartment
my B-sharp. The sound's a view; the veil of time
is rent. The neighbor touched her
with his stubs: the stubs felt
delicately all across
her shivering and then
she quicked into
a mess of blessed
manifolds and fenders...
Out of the movie's blue he beat
a retreat, back into plain old
neighborliness. But the chrome could not
stop flowing, chauffeur-free; its silver swept
the city, soldered Sodom to Dog Island...

Copyright 1996

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