Ann Cotten

(1982 / Ames, Iowa)


The palindrome is not palingenesis:
The latter would be more an anagram.
In search of erudite convivial theses
it has been done with rocks, nations, spam.

I shake the last item inside my backpack,
and as I walk, my thoughts, palingenetic,
shake what enters my sight, because I lack shock
am always hoping to see something elegiac:

See her. And so I peer into the flights
of trees, dare not lower my eyes, for fear
of missing her, and set foot before foot,
approach that place where all paths lead away.
Of what is here I see the nights, and smell the day
and take the next best route for leaving here.

I take the next best route but find no peace.
Is it the path or is it I? The fault is clear,
I took this path pretending weariness, but there
I lied. I wanted to find her. I lie. I want my spur.

How, if the goal is but a goad behind,
is it not stilled at once whenever you stop?
To get beyond the wound,
I suppose one must evolve another alphabet.

Zeniths were fine, if I but knew the measure.
Paths don't come back as well as they went off.
If one is I, perhaps one had better go on,
ignoring the sweet pains, the bitter treasure,
the genome's dance, eternal and recumbant:
in pure embrace we certainly are redundant.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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