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The Curtain

 Just over the horizon a great machine of death is roaring and

One can hear it always.
Earthquake, starvation, the ever- renewing field of corpse-flesh.
In this valley the snow falls silently all day and out our window We see the curtain of it shifting and folding, hiding us away in our little house, We see earth smoothened and beautified, made like a fantasy, the snow-clad trees So graceful in a dream of peace.
In our new bed, which is big enough to seem like the north pasture almost With our two cats, Cooker and Smudgins, lying undisturbed in the southeastern and southwestern corners, We lie loving and warm, looking out from time to time.
"Snowbound," we say.
We speak of the poet Who lived with his young housekeeper long ago in the mountains of the western province, the kingdom Of complete cruelty, where heads fell like wilted flowers and snow fell for many months across the mouth Of the pass and drifted deep in the vale.
In our kitchen the maple-fire murmurs In our stove.
We eat cheese and new-made bread and jumbo Spanish olives That have been steeped in our special brine of jalapeños and garlic and dill and thyme.
We have a nip or two from the small inexpensive cognac that makes us smile and sigh.
For a while we close the immense index of images which is Our lives--for instance, the child on the Mescalero reservation in New Mexico in 1966 Sitting naked in the dirt outside his family's hut of tin and cardboard, Covered with sores, unable to speak.
But of course the child is here with us now, We cannot close the index.
How will we survive? We don't and cannot know.
Beyond the horizon a great unceasing noise is undeniable.
The machine May break through and come lurching into our valley at any moment, at any moment.
Cheers, baby.
Here's to us.
See how the curtain of snow wavers and falls back.
Credit: Copyright © 1995 by Hayden Carruth.
Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.

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