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Even If I Could, by C.K. Williams

November 20, 1994

Except for the little girl

making faces behind me, and the rainbow

behind her, and the school and the truck,

the only thing between you and infinity

is me. Which is why you cover your ears

when I speak and why

you're always oozing around the edges,

clinging, trying

to go by me.

And except for my eyes and the back

of my skull, and then my hair,

the wall, the concrete

and the fire-cloud, except for them

you would see

God. And that's why rage howls in your arms

like a baby and why I can't move--

because of the thunder and the shadows

merging like oil and the smile gleaming

through the petals.

Let me tell you how sick with loneliness

I am. What can I do while the distance

throbs on my back like a hump,

or say, with stars stinging me

through the wheel? You are before me,

behind me things rattle their deaths out

like paper. The angels ride

in their soft saddles:

except for them, I would come closer

and go.

From "C.K. Williams Selected Poems" by C. K. Williams (Farrar, Straus & Giroux: $22; 290 pp.) . 1994 Reprinted by permission.

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