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To What Lies Beyond

This is the time of year when almost every night.
That is no country for old men. Yet once more,
O ye Laurels. My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness.

Such lamentations of the one lamentability
all dread the one dread that we dread to name,
that anyway no name names. He went over the falls
in a barrel, she rowed upstream in a tub.
All any credo ever did is halt a line of thought.
Still, this I believe: there are walls, and then there are walls.
I hope to stage an experience that calls

from within walls to whatever lies beyond them.
(There's always a double entendre in "lies.")
"Stage" as in perform, but also as in order.
Perform for whom, though? With whom? Order according to
what principle? There is sequence, and then there is sequence.
There is direction, too, though no two please the same place.
I was headed east when my marriage turned south.
Apparently she'd known how sad I was, and how stupid.
Why hadn't I? How tell which way it points, that trace,
somewhere between the critique and the embrace,

that is than bread crumbs less susceptible to birds
but more ambiguous, and than a mushroom
pushed through pine needles hardly more intelligible.
There was a young man from South Philly ...
My ophthalmologist swivelled the monitor
to show me color photos of the backs of my eyes,
after a significant-sounding sotto voce Hmmmm.
Turns out they're leading the way for the rest of me
through Used to But No Longer to Keep Your Alibis.
Catching in motion the ways the land lies

gets harder as my sight and hearing fall away.
C-store clerks get nervous when I ask directions
to the City of God. As do librarians when I ask
what world will salvage my world and what for and what from.
With my diminished sense I can't expect to hear,
but I imagine anyway, and name, what sings
of what is past, or passing, or to come.
It's choral, it's chaotic, it's ignorant against the sky,
this convocation, this imbroglio, of blisterings,
some of it complicated, wrapped in wings.

H. L. Hix

Michigan Quarterly Review

Spring 2012

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