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Today's poem is by Reginald Shepherd

An Abbreviated History of Signs

And not to be removed
under penalty of law, the lovers
meditating on conjunction, for,

with, among not touching, sounds
that cleave them, seam them, each I seen
to be an eye. This and comes

between them, baffles in a labyrinth
of vowel songs (I owe you): longs
not to be a part of speech

apart. While they say world, things
go on adding up promiscuously,
repeating brick, yellow, drink: every

fish, finch, swallow, apparent
young man; window panes
glance, blink, and blur. (Light lies

like a dog across the threshold, willing
to find gods in anything, Daphne
boughs, bones of the tree.) Seeds

stiffen into branches, rooted leaves
sprout stems, sewing damp ground
to sky, the pure devouring light

of hands: no sound missing
in the wind, loose coins of leaves
(fernlike, much dissected, orange

-red to purple) lacunae shaken
from dripping limbs, scarlet
sumac dropping: like flies

out and under: rumbles, rustles.
(He loved the liquid consonants'
consequence, consanguinity

glossed across wet sidewalks
said before. Here's a theory
of the small of his back, spine's

scooped-out channel run aground
on shallow breathing.) To and two
make thou, loss feeds on light

(sciosophy, the science of shadows,
burning the wish to be seen),
according with the lapses

in the law. Days pass
through his body as though
he were glass, I seems

a ceremony of sums, adds
an absence to the eye: dangles
there upside down. Argued

into experience, cutting days
down to sight, the origins
of space in ruined shine.



Copyright © 2003 Reginald Shepherd All rights reserved
from Otherhood
University of Pittsburgh Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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