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November 04, 1990

Air, much greater than the sea--

More basic, more human than the sea: all that air

Is calm:

unpeopled, wearing the high lucidity

Of vigil. Maybe one day the mere surface

Of the earth will feel you. But the air

You can never keep doesn't know

When it lived in your chest:

Mindless, nerveless, breathless,

The air glitters

All the outside, and keeps carrying

You from within.

From the poem, "Immortals," excerpted from "The Eagle's Mile" by James Dickey (University Press of New England: $20; $9.95, paper; 65 pp.). "What I looked for here," Dickey says about this collection, "was a flicker of light 'from another direction,' and when I caught it--or thought I did--I have followed where it went, for better or worse." 1990 by James Dickey. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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