You are always in the middle of the poem
even at the end.
More and more you are tied by ropes,
foliage, and as you move
the bindings grow around your knees, your feet.
Again and again you pass
your own footprints on the grass, on floors,
once more you have tracked mud into the house.
Have tracked a house into the mud. Outside the poem
are sirens, fires, ocean hitting
pier. Say to yourself: does not cohere
but is subsumed
and must not, must not. Outside the poem
a little vein clicks in the forehead of a financier,
a cue called, an oboe,
truncheons, pigeons, rain
mineralizes a colonnade.
A chorale stands up, taller than a building,
false in sense, numerically true.
You despise these techniques.
You have not got to the truth yet.
A truck downshifts on the freeway,
a shift whistle blows,
someone else’s emergency makes the poem hold.
At night, like notes pushed under doors,
sounds come in––
flypaper in an open window,
your mother rubbing lotion on her hands.
All this is with you, is you,
runs after you into the dark
like those men after Copernicus,
like a planet chased by telescopes into space.
Copyright © 2021 by Timmy Straw. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 5, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.