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The Book, By Linda Pastan

May 09, 1999

In the book of shadows

the first page is dark

and the second darker still,

but on the next page,

and the next, there is a flickering

as if the shadows are dancing

with themselves, as if they are dancing

with the leaves they mimic.

Before Narcissus found the pool

it was his shadow he loved,

the way we grow to love our deaths

when we meet them

in dreams. For as we turn

the pages of the book

each page grows heavier

under our numbed fingers, and only

the shadows themselves

are weightless,

only the shadows welcome us

beneath their cool canopy.

From "Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems 1968-1998" by Linda Pastan (W.W. Norton: 302 pp., $27.50)

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