Laura Kasischke

1961 / Grand Rapids, Michigan

After Ken Burns

The beautiful plate I cracked in half as I wrapped it in tissue paper—
as if the worship of a thing might be the thing that breaks it.

This river, which is life, which is wayfaring. This river,
which is also sky. This dipper, full of mind, which is

not only the hysterical giggling of girls, but the trembling
of the elderly. Not only

the scales, beaks, and teeth of creatures, but also
their imaginative names (elephant, peacock) and their
love of one another, the excited
preparations they sometimes make
for their own deaths.

It is as if some graceful goddess, wandering in the dark, desperate with thirst, bent down and dropped that dipper
clumsily in this river. It floated away. Consciousness, memory, sensory information, the historians and their glorious war . . .
The pineal gland, tiny pinecone in the forehead, our third eye: Of course

it will happen here. No doubt. Someday, here,

in this little house,
they will lay the wounded side by side. The blood
will run into the basement through the boards. Their ghosts are already here, along
with the cracked plate wrapped in old paper in the attic,

and the woman who will turn one day at the window to see
a long strange line of vehicles traveling slowly toward her door, which

she opens (what choice does she have?) although she has not yet been born.
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