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Published: Wed Jul 1 2009
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
Drying Out

Every sharp distinction cut.
I’d ride around on the bus.
I saw a fire truck in fallen flowers. So much mass
under so much nothing.
I was rattled by the sign, ELECTRIC MOTORS &

I’d walk a mile out of my way
to not cross a bridge,
wearing wool gloves on summer days.
When touch-me-nots waved, I felt sick.

I was cold in a madrona’s shadow, shocked
by the wetness of a leaf.
The nights were so dark; the mornings,
too bright.
I saw a lawn chair reclining in the sun
and had to shield my eyes.

Canadian-American poet James Arthur is the author of The Suicide’s Son (Véhicule Press, 2019) and Charms Against Lightning (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). His poems have also appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New York Review of Books, The American Poetry Review, AGNIThe New Republic, and The London Review of Books. He has received the Amy Lowell Travelling Poetry Scholarship, a Hodder Fellowship, a Stegner Fellowship, a Discovery/The Nation Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship to Northern Ireland, and a Visiting Fellowship at Exeter College, Oxford. Arthur lives in Baltimore, where he teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. (updated 10/2019)

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