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Erased Aristotle

This is the beginning.

Almost anything can happen.

This is where you find

the creation of light, a fish wriggling onto land,

the first word of Paradise Lost on an empty page.

Think of an egg, the letter A,

a woman ironing on a bare stage

as the heavy curtain rises.

This is the very beginning.

The first-person narrator introduces himself,

tells us about his lineage.

The mezzo-soprano stands in the wings.

Here the climbers are studying a map

or pulling on their long woolen socks.

This is early on, years before the Ark, dawn.

The profile of an animal is being smeared

on the wall of a cave,

and you have not yet learned to crawl.

This is the opening, the gambit,

a pawn moving forward an inch.

This is your first night with her,

your first night without her.

This is the first part

where the wheels begin to turn,

where the elevator begins its ascent,

before the doors lurch apart.

This is the middle.

Things have had time to gets complicated,

messy, really. Nothing is simple anymore.

Cities have sprouted up along the rivers

teeming with people at cross-purposes—

a million schemes, a million wild looks.

Disappointment unshoulders his knapsack

here and pitches his ragged tent.

This is the sticky part where the plot congeals,

where the action suddenly reverses

or swerves off in an outrageous direction.

Here the narrator devotes a long paragraph

to why Miriam does not want Edward’s child.

Someone hides a letter under a pillow.

Here the aria rises to a pitch,

a song of betrayal, salted with revenge.

And the climbing party is stuck on a ledge

halfway up the mountain.

This is the bridge, the painful modulation.

This is the thick of things.

So much is crowded into the middle—

the guitars of Spain, piles of ripe avocados,

Russian uniforms, noisy parties,

lakeside kisses, arguments heard through a wall

too much to name, too much to think about.

And this is the end,

the car running out of road,

the river losing its name in an ocean,

the long nose of the photographed horse

touching the white electronic line.

This is the colophon, the last elephant in the parade,

the empty wheelchair,

and pigeons floating down in the evening.

Here the stage is littered with bodies,

the narrator leads the characters to their cells,

and the climbers are in their graves.

It is me hitting the period

and you closing the book.

It is Sylvia Plath in the kitchen

and St. Clement with an anchor around his neck.

This is the final bit

thinning away to nothing.

This is the end, according to Aristotle,

what we have all been waiting for,

what everything comes down to,

the destination we cannot help imagining,

a streak of light in the sky,

a hat on a peg, and outside the cabin, falling leaves.

Notes: NaPoWriMo 2013 Day 26.  Prompt today was to take a poem and erase it, take away words from it, to form a new poem.  I choose Billy Collins’ Aristotle.  I really admire Billy Collins ever since watching this TedTalk.  His poetry seem simple, effortless, but still exhibit amazing depth at the same time.

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