AN AN­CIENT CLAR­ITY OVER­LAID

The New York Review of Books - - News - —Lawrence Joseph

What is thought and felt, be­lieved and dreamed, re­flected on, the plot worked out in con­stant

depth, what isn’t, for the time be­ing, be­ing writ­ten is be­ing worked on—how long will it be,

the one long poem? Tac­i­tus’s An­nals, its halfVir­gilian lines—Kafka’s name on a re­port,

Risk Clas­si­fi­ca­tion and Ac­ci­dent Pre­ven­tion in Wartime—ex­pan­sion of a ten­den­tious lan­guage,

an an­cient clar­ity over­laid. What is said is, ob­jec­tively, mea­sured by vis­ual and au­di­tory

stan­dards of the street; as of last Wed­nes­day, it’s said, two hun­dred six thousand,

six hun­dred three dead, es­ti­mated eigh­teen mil­lion dis­placed. How will it end—it won’t. Vast open-air,

mud-soaked camps, toxic water—no one can say clus­ter bombs aren’t real. What of my grand­par­ents’

fam­i­lies in Le­banon, in Syria, what of my grand­fa­ther, dead for all but four years of my life, yet

I think of him and talk to him in the present tense. The beauty of—a scene seen in street­light.

Rain stopped, she takes my arm, wind icy, gust­ing, on Peck Slip, sky streaked vel­vet. The power of beauty

the proof ac­corded—so much of her beauty alive in me to keep me go­ing the time it takes to fin­ish.

Nu­ance, I know nu­ance—in her eyes; hav­ing been, will ever be, love in the play of the eyes.

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