Monday, March 12, 2012

Removing Your Earrings

Removing Your Earrings

In Turners Falls a ruined mill
gapes like a skull in the desert.
Fire unroofed it and toppled

most of the upper floor. Bricks
pepper the weeds on the shady side.
The sunny side abuts the mill race,

a mile-long trough of river shining
with confidence in its depth.
That’s the kind of confidence you showed

the day you dared me to photograph
the sky above Tremont Street.
Later you asked me to remove

your earrings from your pierced ears.
The intimacy thrilled me all over,
but after that moment we faded

like brown old albumen prints
of people who lost their names.
Photographs of this ruined mill

won’t fade because postmodern,
digital, they aren’t works of art.
You aren’t a work of art, either;

but unclipping those earrings
moved me like a trip to the Louvre.
In digital form neither ruins

nor human events retain depth
but only measurable dimensions.
The mill race, smug in its rush

from north to south, accepts
and conceals all sorts of debris.
The bricks that fell into it

the night of that massive fire
won’t emerge until Doomsday.
You’ll turn up long before then,

maybe this time flashing diamonds
in your earrings; and maybe
you’ll again dare me to photograph

clouds mating over Boston Common
while the subway groans and trembles
to underline our common fear.

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