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Published: Fri Apr 15 2005
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

after the Babylonian

Here is the true adamant and will of the world:
out of my mother’s body I made the world.

To cut her in two as though gutting a fish,
that is one recipe for making a world.

From her eyes empty rivers, from her breasts mountains,
from the wound of my birth, the release of the world.

The snows are her siftings, each breeze her last breath
that wanders the roads like the lost of the world.

To save them from loss I raise up my cities,
each one a beacon, a map of the world.

On streets I have left no place for the errant
for in every home I alone light the world.

If the gods want to sleep, I will let them sleep
and make myself god, the lord of this world.

I am the grain, the plough cleaving its furrow.
I am the storm that floods the whole world.

I am the singular, and the dispersal.
I judge all the living and dead of the world.

These words were judged by god’s judge and given:
whispers through walls, wind, another world.

See what's inside AGNI 61

Daniel Tobin is the author of six books of poems, including Where the World is Made, Double Life, The Narrows, and Second Things, along with critical studies Awake in America and Passage to the Center. His fifth collection of poetry, Belated Heavens, was winner of the 2011 Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry. His forthcoming book, The Net, will be published in 2014. He is editor of The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present. Among his awards are the “Discovery”/The Nation Award, the Robert Penn Warren Award, the Robert Frost Fellowship, and the Katherine Bakeless Nason Prize, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He is chair of the Department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson college. (updated 4/2012)

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