Lined Up Just So
Jonathan Weinert (bio)

If in the next world we will refuse to matter,
we matter to ourselves in this one,
like several species of migratory birds

sharing the same hierarchy of wires
with evening falling if not exactly sooner
then with greater delicacy

on the last oaks’ proffered limbs,
as we prefer. However soon
the memories of cities leave us

isn’t soon enough. Nomadic without religion,
mosaic in all accepted senses of the word,

we share the darkness
with a dozen unreal terrors that are worse.
So much that’s beautiful has been lost,

but then there are these shadows in the grass
mimicking triumphal marbles that have fallen,
rising to the level of beauty by virtue

only of their absence. Beauty’s now
an eye-high sort of style, a peering
through an afterimage, lensless,

or it’s notarized and standard, a contract
nobody intends to honor, not these several

kinds of songbirds cracking seeds of darkness
in their beaks. Tending to the humors
of our less immediate natures

blunts the passage of a recollected impulse
to make too much sense of sensation
while the swallows, swifts, and winged victories

inhabit an imperceptible air
like certain wall-drawings downtown
that no one can interpret.

Recognition places us in fields
of various colorings, characters

in separate plays where words no longer turn
to bits and pentacles.
So much that’s beautiful has been lost,

as color’s lost to the blind from birth,
an absence unfelt and so impossible to name.
Monadic without unity, fractured

in all accepted senses of the world,
we mass together, taken in the aggregate
like corn or bullets,

as though the storehouse of another’s face
contained commodities one needs.

If in the next world stones are lives
then dead things still have eyes that see us
even if our names no longer signify,

even if we hurry into shelters out of range
of all pernicious influence.
We matter to ourselves as workers matter

to their factories, useless
in the darkened theater of the third-growth trees,
as if the world had shrugged

and turned away, having said
the perfect thing.

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