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Adam Clay

How to Stop Migration


Glad for the dust I am, for in its pattern
   I see an order beyond its name. Civility

      in the rain as well, window I wish to break, window I broke, all the same,
repaired, broke again,

      the bees get used to the keeper—one of their own—
   and the sky
once wrapped in a rug

   did not turn out to be the same sky when unwrapped and revealed
but how could I have known?

   Tell me
      how could I have known my body

would fit so well into a barrel, into the river, over the falls—

   how to stop migration—
five thousands doves, dyed black:

         a darkened sky—
      a voice says: Houdini would have worn three pairs of handcuffs,

a lead blindfold and—
   it’s true—
      shaken them all off.


But what’s more important than all of this, what’s always been more important
   than any of this, is the question

      of how to set work aside for another day—
         for instance,

   every ninety seconds a grocery cart is stolen
but where, the voice asks, do they all go? The frontier

      is a grand place, but a mountain of steel
   and twisted metal

is grander, somehow, in the eaves of the mind—if only

   for the strange beauty of it. But wait—

      I do not mean to say
a pile of shopping carts can somehow overtake what nature has always had a right to—

      after all, I was once called a nature poet
by my mother

      and nature weighs more than all the shopping carts in the world—
but all of this is as peripheral to us

   as only mass can be—
truly, all of this is to say:
   step away from the tree you’ve been leaning against,

come with me, can you,
      come with me to the top of these shopping carts

   and look at the moon and tell me—please tell me—
is it not more beautiful right now than it ever has been?


From A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World – Milkweed Editions, 2012