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Getting in Line

A man crosses a field. He’d like something
to set down so he picks up a rock
about the size of a baby. Rock-baby
is heavier than a baby-baby would be,
the man has walked but a few steps
when he abandons the child. Years later,
there’s a knock on his door in the fi eld:
rock-baby has grown up and wants
to get even. The man
doesn’t remember rock-baby,
so when rock-baby says, you never loved me,
the man says, sure, I can buy that,
and offers grown-up rock-baby a beer.
When they’re a little drunk, the man says,
your quarrel isn’t with me, your quarrel’s
with the poet who put us in the fi eld,
and the poet’s quarrel
is with the God who makes poets
send people walking across fi elds,
and God’s quarrel is with the nothing
that came before God
that God is always trying to fi ll, even after God
has fi lled it. Grown-up rock-baby
thinks the man is telling him
he doesn’t really exist, he stones the man
to death to prove that his non-existence
is not the case. Alone
with the bloody certainty
of his tangibility, he writes out,
again and again, my thoughts
have a city in them. And in that city,
at night, a little girl
wants a goldfi sh for the goldfi sh
she already has, and the goldfi sh
wants a little girl for the little girl
he already has, and the bowl
wants a bowl beside it
to share the orange and rippling feeling
it would call soul if the word
wasn’t already taken.

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