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Landscape At The End Of The Century

 The sky in the trees, the trees mixed up
with what's left of heaven, nearby a patch
of daffodils rooted down
where dirt and stones comprise a kind
of night, unmetaphysical, cool as a skeptic's
final sentence.
What this scene needs is a nude absentmindedly sunning herself on a large rock, thinks the man fed up with nature, or perhaps a lost tiger, the maximum amount of wildness a landscape can bear, but the man knows and fears his history of tampering with everything, and besides to anyone who might see him he's just a figure in a clearing in a forest in a universe that is as random as desire itself, his desire in particular, so much going on with and without him, moles humping up the ground near the daffodils, a mockingbird publishing its cacaphonous anthology, and those little Calvinists, the ants, making it all the more difficult for a person in America to close his office, skip to the beach.
But what this scene needs are wisteria and persimmons, thinks the woman sunning herself absentmindedly on the rock, a few magnificent words that one might want to eat if one were a lover of words, the hell with first principles, the noon sun on my body, tempered by a breeze that cannot be doubted.
And as she thinks, she who exists only in the man's mind, a deer grazes beyond their knowing, a deer tick riding its back, and in the gifted air mosquitos, dragonflies, and tattered mute angels no one has called upon in years.

by Stephen Dunn
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