Jorie Graham

Steam from my breathing on the pane. I smear it off.
Then steam again… I hold my breath.
Seconds. Minutes. Then
the foggy blossoming: a breath: a breath: the green now
under whiteness shuddering, then gone, I am alone, then like a test-tone
                                                                                       piercing through
the gossipy motions of
some smearing adamantine windowed
underneath—rooted—prearranged and
from which now green begins to reappear—and Difference—
as a bridegroom gradually coming out of his
Is there no speech where his voice is not heard?
Slowly it recomposes all.
The bank of ragged green, the neighbor’s lawn—
gazebo, birdhouse, treehouse, barn—
all thickening again with
the steam of my being
so near—I wipe it off—making the image porcelain-
clear—a second, secret, frost, this frost of my
curiosity—the manyheadedness now
rakish—furry and lithe—swording—a swirling elation
all the green heads pliant in the light in unison—
tipping without tipping towards or from
—no edge—I wipe it again—he shines—scanning the daylight
                                                                                  lip by lip,
fingering the bottom echelons
                                  of day,
thousands of green feelers holding his inside up—
as if a Shrillness but not shrill—
lingual but not tongued—
and there is none of him hid, none,
and yet it is not, itself, actually there,
his going forth and going forth,
wherein all things great and small innumerable—
opening his million hands, taking away his million
hands—sending forth, enduring, dis-
appearing—how do I see him?—and now?—and
now?—so icy the current running through him, no middle to it,
no singleness or single place—
where do I look to see him true?
where the beginning by which I start to move
over his multitude—where,
the object of my eye’s accomplishment—
where the crown? where does my
mind, here, snag, begin?—how long this breath held-in to make him
reappear again?—
oh glittering
blossoming ragged reef my spangled eye now seeks—winking
hallucination—merciless illegible wavering
weed—veined algaed repertoire—rough incarnate—shuddering spar—
and unrelenting exhalation that wafts me on my way—

Jorie Graham is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, including To 2040, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2023. She teaches at Harvard University.
Originally published:
April 1, 1995


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