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Two Poems
Distance as the Story of Plenty

If the landscape has a pattern then it begins with your wrist, 

between the radius and the ulna where it finds the will 

to consider the oak and the wheel before inhabiting your pulse, 

the heavy signature of a river, or hollow stubs of cornstalks 

left to winter. If the mountain wanted to write you 

of the many cries concealed within its famed anatomy, 

or the bold and plentiful vision inherent to trees, perhaps 

how even light finds its valleys come morning, it would have to 

begin by conceding that it still cannot comprehend 

how the crow is in everything, the caw so essential to the air,

though it would know the decisive knife strokes imbedded 

in the flight, and how it was first conceived from the violet 

of the evening, then cradled by the cold’s incalculable distance. 



In the mediation between spun gold 
and air, the wind emerges 
as a clearing among three stars. 

Several seats remain untaken there
the windows go on gazing 
until they lose sight of themselves 

in the sky, shrubs, and the green 
joy of sparrows. Someone 
has made a necklace from solitude 

and someone else has left 
a lamp on just in case 
you want to find out. 

In the rivers that live
behind us, even the ways of timber 
have softened though so many 

stones still hold counsel 
with the unbearable witness; 
they roll themselves as if wandering

from town to town, uncertain
who to ask and unaware 
they mean death, the commemoration 

of a name, of sympathy, of order 
and most especially 
the firm currency of our fortune. 

NOTE: Both poems were inspired by two undated, untitled photographs of landscapes by Josef Koudelka as found in his book, Photo Poche.