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A poem by Nicholas Laughlin

First published in St. Petersburg Review 4/5, 2012

Lamps, Clocks, Mirrors, Maps

Lamps, clocks, mirrors, maps,
etc., props all drowsy with dusk.
The windows roped open, the breeze outside
launching brief arias of leaves and plastic bags.

I found your list snug in an unread book
(no one reads poems, no book could be safer),
the names crossed out.

                            So many maps—
islands, boroughs, bridges, trees,
towers, colours, thumbprints, hills,
rings of stones and single stones,
and the paths of particular citizens:
the certain, the gentle, the wary young,
men with ladders, women with ropes—
creased, pinpricked, stained.

With every unfolding the patient city outside
rewords itself: a street revealed,
a park unleashed, a fountain wheels.
You are still making your way back home,
errands remembered, and look how it hasn’t rained.
Near the river: birds,
a species the maps don’t know.

• • •

Read more poems by Nicholas Laughlin