That the smell of cows drifting in the open window is indeed that of a living beast.

That I too am a living beast.

That the body I possess is inhabited only by me.

That my body is neither at rest nor occupied by dramatic motion.

That I am, by my best account, fully alive.

That the room in which I am seated is in Germany, in a town called Worpswede.

That a poet I admire once lived here too, though he is long since dead.

Rilke wrote, “That I gently wipe away the look of suffered injustice sometimes hinders the pure motion of spirits a little.”

That there are such things as “spirits.”

That we were born suffering, but that we are not meant to suffer.

That the wind blows and the birches outside my window sing a little.

And that cooing and chucking of the dove I hear is also a kind of song.

That the difference between the living and the dead is mostly one of conjugation.

Er starb. Er ist gestorben. Ein gestorbenes Mensch.

That what we make when we speak is a kind of music, but disjointed

and that music seeks a unity that our speech does not possess.

Once I felt as though I was dead, but now the reasons for that feeling baffle me.

I marvel at what it is to feel the sun on my skin.

“Burnish,” is the word that comes into my head. “Burnished by the sun,”

as if my torso was a copper shield.

That my torso is a kind of shield protecting the inside from the outside

though we all know we are penetrable in many ways.

That an image of the saint pinned above my desk shows his torso pocked with arrows.

That those arrows are shot from the world of men.

Mark Wunderlich is the author of three collections of poems, with his fourth book, God of Nothingness, forthcoming from Graywolf Press.

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