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Self-Portrait at Three DegreesJorie Graham
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Vol. 37 No. 23 · 3 December 2015
Poem

Self-Portrait at Three Degrees

Jorie Graham

537 words

Teasing out the possible linkages I – no you – who noticed – if the world – no –
the world if – take plankton – I feel I cannot love any more – take plankton – that
love is reserved for an other kind of existence – take plankton – that such an
existence is a form of porn now – no – what am I saying – take plankton – it
is the most important plant on earth – think love – composes at least half
the biosphere’s entire primary production – love this – love what – I am saying
you have no choice – that’s more than all the land plants on the whole planet put
together – blooms so large they can be photographed from space – everything
living – take it – here you take it, I can’t hold it anymore – you don’t want it – I
don’t care – you carry it for now – I need to catch my breath – I want to lie here
and listen – within fifty years if we are lucky – I am writing this in 2015 – like
spraying weedkiller over all the world’s vegetation – that’s our raw
material, our inventory, right now, we are going through the forms of worship,
we call it news, we will make ourselves customers, we won’t wait, how fast can we be
delivered – will get that information to you – requires further study – look
that’s where the river used to be – one morning I woke up and I was born – I

realised I was born – earth was the place to be – hurtling winding unwinding thick
nexus looking up at sky down at soil will I learn how to stand on it – I will – I am
standing, look, I am a growth possibility, will accumulate a backlog, will become
an informed consumer→shapeless unspendable future→this was my song to you→
I stood for the first time on my own→unimaginable strength in these feet, these
hands→what am I supposed to not harm→I want to touch things till they break→that
is how to see them→all the points of contact→entropy, diminishment, pressing
and then pulling back and looking, leaving alone→unimaginable→a meaning in
every step→I change shape→it is allowed→wind proves everything wrong→so
nothing is unimagined→press too far and there you have it→dream→shape of
certainty→wide forces gathering in the sunlight→thought→feel this it is
serenity→this is completeness→something darted into the bush→no forcing
just curve flight gathering terror unfinality clumps of feel/think then tree-swallows
bursting up out of the tree they were not leaves after all the field of rules not visible but
suddenness its own rule→surprise. Not chaos. If I listen: everything: chant of.

Dwell there. Cross-hatchings of me and emptiness. Seeing into. Falls here. Given
definition. Define anthropos. Define human. Where do you find yourself. Is it
worth waiting around for. Wind. Bring your brain along. Flesh too, has to be
married off. And your smile. Silly damaged. Don’t even think about it. We are all
tired. We need the tools to make the tools. Also the headdress. Are we ahead of
time or too late? No one is noticing us the whistle blows the birds don’t do
any damage. Dwell.

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