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In This World Previous to Ours
Divided as half of me is small and distant.
The other tongue talks of exterior objects,
while this one speaks of water and limitation.
Neither understands the other and while looking
for a translator the street ends the clock changes.
Drummers gather, crowd like a meteor, a crush.
Tongue only delivers, does not listen, stone deaf.
All talking makes a crowd plural agitation.

Stand here and see the river an entirely
different way: Under water is air and through
air, passage. Color is another wave that takes
sand, rocks, bridge. Water will reflect everything but
what is inside it. It is like that, trying to
describe it. Like that, I scramble along a shore
catching up to the crowds, people standing there, each
one a stranger, what do I have to say to them?
I want to tell them, but language has divided;
we stand divided, each another point, a line.

Light and noise echo off the complex of buildings,
then red, orange, yellow—sequence of colors with
no order, no reason, no logos. Spectacle
and disruption. Each flower of lights is splintered
fire and where heat is noise and a thunderclap of
conflict between heat cold heat movement light heat sound.
It grows in echo to become unbearable,
in collection strength, multiply fierce on eyes, ears.

Grows in echo to become multiple, rewind
and distant, yet arriving. Pushed and cliff-like, seems.
Aerie, logical. A survey. A prospect. Like,
seems. Once here, now distantly. Reverberation
of an echo. A person sitting alone in
a room speaks a phrase. The room is blank. The phrase sounds
itself out along wall, wall, ceiling, floor. No door.
Is that what it used to be like? When his mouth moved?
Is that any way to make it like a city?

Land fades from us. Transitions are into water
and with water, wave. Wave, change and indication.
Clouds gather in a sort of communication.
Today was at first sunny. Now? Now, birds touch edge
of weather and turn again, away from us, as
fast as they can fly. As fast as we can catch up
with them, in our flying machine with wings that fall
to rocket position, so aerodynamic. 

Marcella Durand is the author of Traffic & Weather (Futurepoem), AREA (Belladonna), and, with Tina Darragh, Deep Eco Pré (Little Red Leaves). “In This World Previous to Ours” is an excerpt from a book-length alexandrine. Her latest book, To husband is to tender (Black Square Editions), was published in 2021, the same year she received the C.D. Wright Award in Poetry from the Foundation of Contemporary Art.