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This is Jacket 12, July 2000   |   # 12  Contents   |   Homepage   |   Catalog   |

Timothy Donnelly

Dark Night on the Inside of a Rock

Who misses the old days’ stimuli — the nonstop
battery of matter, the beatings seen, unseen, the something
of an arm outstretched from Asia, the occasional

pinch of glass when he could walk but seven paces
to a new disaster’s brewing — had been lying
on his side, digesting the disgusting, hadn’t eaten

anything that wholesome for a week, and when he felt
the air grow heavier, then petrify,
he welcomed it. No way to cross the carpet to the light’s

too distant switch. No need to check the clock’s diminishing
alarm. And when at last he woke, bound there in the dark
night on the inside of a rock, he counted himself fortunate.

Note: That much I remember. But the rest of the story
keeps falling away from me, almost like it wants to.
For example, how had he chosen that day in particular?
And when I try to imagine the look on his face,
I hear a jar of buttons cut from threadbare shirts. Buttercups
collect like cast-off thoughts about the border.
I ask for one last glass of lemonade, and I feel his boyhood hand
clutching a broken pencil, dissolving in salt water.

Timothy Donnelly’s poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Fence, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Quarterly West, TriQuarterly, Verse and elsewhere. He is a poetry editor at Boston Review and lives in New York City.

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