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Sleeping Giant

by Eve Jones


Off the coast of Ireland an island
sleeps in the shape of a man.

To the ones who first saw him,
from a cliff edge or boat rail,

he must have come out of the mist
like a newly fallen god,

a drowned giant, his body gone
over to forest, his hair tumbling

into wave-break, hands tucked,
circled by birds. An island,

but also a man, a recognizable god.
Why do we look for ourselves

everywhere, mapping distance
between the heart and the wild?

Just on the edge of perception something
thrashes, screams, becomes a bird

crossing your line of sight. Always,
this fluency: a world dangling within

a world, another unbearable place
to inhabit. Always, lines arranging

the shape as it rises. Grief: wind in
a white field, the hand’s

slow opening. What is time
but loss and gain,

the runner stumbling into the ribbon?
I, too, have done it—

given love a skin, a pair of arms,
offered it a bed to burn in.

It is the consequence of despair,
of love’s strange face, any wild thing:

we trace it down into something not new,
but known, something that sleeps.

 

Eve Jones recently completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore and are forthcoming in Hotel Amerika. She lives in St. Louis, where she teaches composition and poetry. (10/2004)


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