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People at Night

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Written by Denise Levertov

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 A night that cuts between you and you
and you and you and you
and me : jostles us apart, a man elbowing
through a crowd.
We won't look for each other, either- wander off, each alone, not looking in the slow crowd.
Among sideshows under movie signs, pictures made of a million lights, giants that move and again move again, above a cloud of thick smells, franks, roasted nutmeats- Or going up to some apartment, yours or yours, finding someone sitting in the dark: who is it really? So you switch the light on to see: you know the name but who is it ? But you won't see.
The fluorescent light flickers sullenly, a pause.
But you command.
It grabs each face and holds it up by the hair for you, mask after mask.
You and you and I repeat gestures that make do when speech has failed and talk and talk, laughing, saying 'I', and 'I', meaning 'Anybody'.
No one.


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