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Which but for VacancyJorie Graham
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Vol. 19 No. 15 · 31 July 1997
Poem

Which but for Vacancy

Jorie Graham

394 words

Again today the dream. But of what?
The dream like a long slim tunnel we lay ourselves down in –
the lilies in the dust, the face that seems to shine
in the linoleum – blue – the thing we would strip down to if –
the melting snow allowing, the faint falling-sound receding …
But the nature of the dream will not appear for us.
It lightens the air immeasurably
as if it were itself
a kind of dawn,
but only its form appears,
a stillness too elaborate
for minds like roots, minds that are roots, to comprehend –
(when what we wanted most, of course, was to believe, be loved) – oh comprehension,
such a small hissing sound it makes on this still air, that exhalation,
little path in its own right
the dream lays down.
Now light through shutters on the wall
is laying the spine of a serpent
down – bright vertebrate near-interlinking
bits – its sentence moving sideways, up –
while elsewhere now again and again move their own sideways, up,
and yet elsewhere, again, the Lord God’s forming something from the blue sea-slime
and forcing breath-of-life into its face again.
A cracked pod calls.
The thing on my wall now, slow, grows little fangs, of gold,
where safety-latch and shutter enter into
shadow-play. And I can feel the tunnelling rivery needs of the dream dissolving,
and I don’t remember how I am supposed
to keep it, keep it …
Because you see the wind is sharpening itself on rocks.
The sun is rising up against the house.
The walls are yellowing with it.
Don’t you hear the faint filling-sound it makes,
bringing its birds?
It looks gigantically down.
And the ribbony avenue of the possible dream frays, thins –
what gate, where is the gate? –
and the waiting which laid itself, also blue, down in that track,
hoping to be poured, hoping to be led out like a tongue,
the waiting which had ceased to writhe – at least grant me that –
the hoping which had made waiting its combustion –
although still wanting
starts to dissolve as the pictures come on, the distances,
its dearest tension foaming up a bit then drying thinly off, like foam, in sun
saturated quite so suddenly by the apparent strengths of the story,
appointments and well-drawn fields and, closer-up, a saucer-magnolia
where one bud, today, has just begun to rip
into view.

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