The following appears with three additional Swensen poems in Conjunctions:40.
The Invention of the Night-Watch
Is defined as that which walks it’s in all the books-Psalms,
the ones with all the pictures
of men walking at night. A legion of staves, and etched
onto the leaves: what here I have witnessed
some blind world of the blind
beneath a torch
held in a sheaf
on which said eye and yes.
On which said light is fixed,
while in the molten light they stood
on corners all night long as the bell-bearers stalked abroad
and what you thought was a tolling of the hours you were counting was
in fact an encoded reporting of events: theft, murder, fire, wolf, circle
is worthy of attention, is
and thus were we eaten. 1385. There’s a light that lists toward each en
route to heaven and we follow the folding
screens. Between seven and sixteen
bodies a night were collected off the
streets of Paris from the thirteenth
through the seventeenth centuries and
several more from the Seine.
Who counted in his sleep
counted his sleep;
who took a walk after dark, I have a friend
in the world.