Aaron Shurin: Poems

2 minute read

"Then as now — with the light beginning to pale and the waterfront air thinning..."


Then as now — with the light beginning to pale and the waterfront air thinning — then as now, the boy in short pants and gray beard, with a notebook or cool eye or hot heart — and the streetcars passing like scuttling bugs with their cargo of whispering heads… Then and now, who made a pool of action where he sat in the still air and the dome of sight in the no-action whispers of an afternoon advancing like a cat… It was a moment like a flower in a flower, an inner basket in a basket or an egg inside an egg, whirling in a vortex whose speed resembled silence…. He licked the folded page. Then as now, a crease within a fold that bent the letters like a bow… There’s a high window — gull’s eye — green glass in a glint of blue — through which he sees, is seen, reviews, is made again or unmade, stripped clear or shaped in planes, unstrung, restrung, where he is mirrored and re-mothered, murdered and slipped back into skin — then as now — while the streetcar slides by in a lull of passing, a pulled stitch in the loose fabric that opens like a scroll…


There were plausible echoes of voices, bells, birds, yowling dogs, footsteps, thunder on the move…There were hillside houses squared white and flagrant chartreuse cubes, a furor of dark clouds edging the hills… I was racing back and forth from the window’s formal postcard view to the patio’s shameless vista, mapping the violet highs and lows and faraways… against my surging immobility… I was pacing back and forth from the scratchy mirror in the kitchen to the dimmed-out mirror in the hall, seizing the husk of every disappearing hour… against my surging invisibility… Unable to read, I squirmed from the slatted rocker to the hardwood bench to crunch up like a sack of sticks and dream of sleep… In the thick of the heat I could feel the bones of the nearest clouds smash like boulders, blasting-out a late wind… Late churning wind, trashing pigeon’s nests, potted plants, and folding chairs; shredding petal, metal, wing and leaf like the End of Days… And then this surge and clang of morning light… cracks open space… stacked up in blazing planes… a flare of steps extending… as phrases… parsed clear… from here… to where I see to be…