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Code Book Lost

What does the veery say, at dusk in shad-thicket...

What does the veery say, at dusk in shad-thicket?
There must be some meaning, or why should your heart stop,

As though, in the dark depth of water, Time held its breath,
While the message spins on like a spool of silk thread fallen?

When white breakers lunge at the black basalt cliff, what
Does the heart hear, gale lifting, the last star long gone now,

Or what in the mother's voice calling her boy from the orchard,
In a twilight moth-white with the apple blossom's dispersal?

Yes, what is that undeclared timbre, and why
Do your eyes go moist, and a pain of unworthiness strike?

What does the woman dying, or supine and penetrated, stare at?
Fly on ceiling, or gold mote afloat in a sun-slit of curtains?

Some message comes thus from a world that screams, far off.
Will she understand before what will happen, will happen?

What meaning, when at the unexpected street corner,
You meet some hope long forgotten, and your old heart,

Like neon in shore-fog, or distance, glows dimly again?
Will you waver, or clench stoic teeth and move on?

Have you thought as you walk, late, late, the streets of a town
Of all dreams being dreamed in dark houses? What do they signify?

Yes, message on message, like wind or water, in light or in dark,
The whole world pours at us. But the code book, somehow, is lost.


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About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

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