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by Daniel Tobin

after the Babylonian

Here is the true adamant and will of the world:
out of my mother’s body I made the world.

To cut her in two as though gutting a fish,
that is one recipe for making a world.

From her eyes empty rivers, from her breasts mountains,
from the wound of my birth, the release of the world.

The snows are her siftings, each breeze her last breath
that wanders the roads like the lost of the world.

To save them from loss I raise up my cities,
each one a beacon, a map of the world.

On streets I have left no place for the errant
for in every home I alone light the world.

If the gods want to sleep, I will let them sleep
and make myself god, the lord of this world.

I am the grain, the plough cleaving its furrow.
I am the storm that floods the whole world.

I am the singular, and the dispersal.
I judge all the living and dead of the world.

These words were judged by god’s judge and given:
whispers through walls, wind, another world.


Daniel Tobin is the author of three books of poems, Where the World is Made, co-winner of the 1998 Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, Double Life (Louisiana State University Press, 2004), and The Narrows (forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2005), as well as a book of criticism, Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, and numerous essays on poetry. Among his awards are the “Discovery”/The Nation Award, the Robert Penn Warren Award, the Greensboro Review Prize, a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Robert Frost Fellowship.Widely published in journals, his work has been anthologized in The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets, The Norton Introduction to Poetry, Hammer and Blaze, and elsewhere. He is presently chair of the Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. (4/2005)

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