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Gillian Conoley


— for Aaron Shurin

an oceanic light to carry the scent of the sea
while a painting      finishes

drying in a gallery        dries peering out of black swaths —

two children holding a globe,    one boy    one girl.

do you get     that occasional ache in the inner ear — white enamel chipping off the hooks,
a radiator clanging in the elementary

cloakroom, girl      singeing her coat to get the heat —

on a walk between friends
lagging us is laughter, the tree
is a hairy monstrance.

grace is the freeway humming.

time flits, so you brought a map,
                 but if we miss the turn,
                 we drop through the
                 center to where we were.

there is no allegory for Empire.
Empire has become

too concrete.
the water laps the water in the lagoon, nowhere to go but to evaporate.

Crush a bay leaf and put it up your nose
for just the right amount of pain,     and to clear the sinuses.

Put anything up your nose for just the right amount of pain.

In the autobiographical
twilight, our heads near the tops of the manzanita, are those

geese honking or dogs barking.

Stein’s idea via Cage: people are the way their land and air is.

The mercy of the sea is the not matter of who says what, such as gulls in the hour’s transport,

you who sought a house
in the gladness doesn’t matter

who says what. Climbing toward, in the vibration as Pacific,
in the trees making air

draining the sound of walking,
shreds of bark and motes of corpses,

gulls contrails and untimed speech glad

                                                                       & chipped

Gillian Conoley’s new collection, Profane Halo, will be published by Verse Press in spring 2005. Her other books include Some Gangster Pain, Beckon, Tall Stranger, and Lovers in the Used World. A chapbook, Fatherless Afternoon, is also forthcoming from Editions Ferris. She edits Volt, and is poet-in-residence and professor of English at Sonoma State University.

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