I’ve been reading Paul Zweig, and responding to his poems with poems of my own. This is the twenty-second poem in the third (“Eternity’s Woods”) section of Zweig’s Selected and Last Poems, followed by my response. See here for details on this experiment in responsive reading. I’ll remove Zweig’s poems after a week or two to prevent egregious copyright infringement.
And Yet . . .
by Paul Zweig
It’s true, we carry the world inside us,
Always present like light.
* * * *
It’s false, the world we carry inside us,
like a stone in a chicken’s crop,
that false tooth.
The winter light;
the red haze of maple buds just beginning to swell;
the story in the paper about the walled-off beach in Haiti
where cruise ships disgorge their passengers
without telling them where they are,
& the local man interviewed for the story says
They want to come here, because they’ve been everywhere else
& my country is the loveliest of all –
it hurts, this world, it makes us ache with longing.
And yet no amount of saliva will grow a pearl around it,
because it is not the real world, which we do not know.
But the world knows us.
It doesn’t stop where we do, at the fingertips,
doesn’t get sidetracked in the labyrinths of lung & gut.
We glow in its shadow the way the moon glows, lurid,
during an eclipse.
It seeds us with cities, this world that was once a womb.
When we die, the abandoned residents
eat themselves out of house & home.
Like the wish hiding in the wishbone,
I take my own sweet time.
If you want to see me sooner, stand
between two mirrors turned to face each other.
Though the antibodies will all muster out,
crane your neck as best you can,
look over their shoulders.
There at the end of the tunnel:
that darkness. A hint of stars.