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Wyatt Prunty



For weeks he's tunneled his intricate need
Through the root-rich, fibrous, mineral dark,
Buckling up in zagged illegibles
The cuneiforms and cursives of a blind scribe.

Sleeved by soft earth, a slow reach knuckling,
Small tributaries open from his nudge
Mild immigrant, bland isolationist,
Berm builder edging the runneling world.

But now the snow, and he's gone quietly deep,
Nuzzling through a muzzy neighborhood
Of dead-end-street, abandoned cul-de-sac,
And boltrun from a dead-leaf, roundhouse burrow.

May he emerge four months from this as before,
Myopic master of the possible,
Wise one who understands prudential ground,
Revisionist of all things green;

So when he surfaces, lumplike, bashful,
Quizzical as the flashbulb blind who wait
For color to return, he'll nose our green-
rich air with the imperative poise of now.


Furrowed as the heaviest brow yet plain
As our forgetfulness, they are unmoved
By change, the way all origins lie stilled
By what they start. Long genealogies
Of fields rest in courthouse records
But lack what came before, generations
Nameless and permanent as need.

Rain, and the broadest reaches go under;
Drought, and they are dust. But always these remain.
To die down to stubble, to disappear,
Then rise from dark into the leaf-long change
Of new life this carries more than reason
Gathers in its mirrors, as being fertile
After freezing cold or swallowing flood
Bears more than powers know to plant.


        -Seeing this gradation and diversity of structure in one small group of birds,one might fancy

that from an original paucity one species had been taken and modified for different ends. 

-The Voyage of the Beagle, Charles Darwin

But for the one marooned all limits have
Reversed so now the ocean's hourglass
Washes sand from underfoot wave after wave
And days elide and word may never pass

Over that fixed horizon of great risk.
The signal fires burn out; bottles drift back.
In time, the lost forget that which they miss,
As all the imitations that they make

Of civilized survival fail, unnoticed
Under the blank domes of day following day.
And this is how identity's erased,
Not in the violent wreck but in the way

Time runs without exception or an end,
Limitless to exhume the days from years,
As though return were how the world begins
And this one doesn't ever, all those fears

One carries into sleep vivid for dark
And the contrast of waking memory
Now told, Forget . . . like island birds whose marks
Reduplicate their mainland history

But never going back go on withal.
That is the order of it, the going through,
That double mind, and nothing in the all-
continuing but what you see from you,

Horizon round, blank-staring blue,
Ocean and sky and you wondering why
Such things happen. They simply do,
So next time someone new will wave goodbye,

Isolate species, with no ship coming round
Yet of those changeful birds blown in by storms,
Frail colonials agreed to common ground,
They fly freely, and by surprising forms.

                                 -from The Lover's Guide to Trapping

Listen to Mr. Prunty read a poem at Slate.com