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A Renunciation Of The Desert Primrose

for J. Robert Oppenheimer

April 29, 2001|Norman Dubie

I am tired of the black-and-white photograph

Of a government bunkhouse, tin and pine,

And the orchids in the catalpa trees

Shriveled to twine. A white birdcage

Hangs from a rafter.

This was the sleep of mathematics, the poor facts

Of primrose. An MP struts

With a large sack filled with rattlesnakes.

The tar-paper windmill kneels out in the dunes,

Battered hat of the Pilgrims.

Beside the bunkhouse,

A tower and checkpoint. Again, a large sack

Slack with mind. The head of the Medusa inside.

Across the dunes

Dead flowers scatter like X rays of the thorax.

I have fallen behind ...

From "The Mercy Seat: Collected and New Poems, 1967-2000" by Norman Dubie (Copper Canyon: 418 pp., $30)

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