association

plowshare feelings push up a slow crumbling churn
of pagan artifacts from unexpected regions,
from behind the barn where the workers rest at midday,
from the front of the school bus
that carries me on a gummy green bench
towards the first day of first grade,
from the little brown cafe where you wait and wait
smoking and patient.

the least dirty detail plucked from the earth
can send me, gaspingly,
back through deep waters
to stand glistening and cold
on the banks of an old empire
within which workers are always resting,
the seats still smell of rubber and anxiety,
and you continue to trace circles in the air
with one foot: legs crossed, coffee with cream
and pall malls arranged before you like tea leaves.

sudden memories turn up blinking in the sunlight:
so many broken arrowheads, potsherds of an ancient regime.
associations swoop down with cries like hawks
from out of nowhere. from a clear blue sky. from left field.
then turns out to be a place, perhaps a prison.
not now versus then. now versus there.
i should have known.

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