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The Weather, For Example

John Ashbery

Coasts are loud. Silences sin

at the meander of their doing.

All along the gatepost was wrong

as we suffered under that song,


wrong to shake the apron out

with crumbs the children marked

the way back with after it got dark.

Spoon the leaven in, there is more


to the hoods than flaps and strings.

A margin oozes.

It’s bakelite he said. I think it’s bakelite.

There’s so much more we know,


time that wraps us in a swarm,

mongrels in nettle tilth,

percentages of doubt that shift unease,

bright locks along the shore.


I was once happy abed,

I could see it coming like a beach

then very fast. We are here to tell

some account of ourselves,


grab favor from the circumcised gods,

be replaced in a box or pocket.

Nothing coming from that quarter,

it behooveth the moth to inch back


against the steep Atlantic tides.

I found us here with toy fish,

choice clusters of whatever

you desired in time past,


rushing in to fill the unthinkable well.


From The Poetry Review Vol 94 No 1 (Spring 2004)

'The Weather, For Example' from Where I Shall Wander by John Ashbery © 2005. Reprinted by permission of George Borchardt, Inc., on behalf of the author.