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A definition

by Bob Hicok

The night touches me, turns me to Braille. The infinite
is blind, I think when I close my eyes. The infinite
is a colander, I think when I look at stars. The infinite is deaf
as an echo but listens with more ears sewn to its tuxedo
than the infinite can count with its infinite mouths. The finite
is the smell of something dead behind me in a house, a mouse
in a heat duct, my mother in her bed, I can’t tell. It’s cold,
I wear a hat over a hat, a coat over a sweater over a t-shirt
over skin over blood, I goose the night and want it to be a cigarette
I smoke down to my fingers and keep going until my fingerprints
are gone. I was in Manhattan and stepping into traffic when a tug
on my coat saved me from a cement truck about to zoom me
to paste, I turned and there was nothing behind me
but the endless going I was a lucky thimble inside of.
The infinite is deciding it was everyone who saved me,
everyone I owe this night, this breath free
of what’s breaking down behind me, what’s going back
to what even the infinite would call the start.


Bob Hicok’s seventh book, Elegy Owed, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in 2013. (4/2012)

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