HISTORY, by Jorie Graham

Into whose ear the deeds are spoken. The only

listener. So I believed

he would remember everything, the murmuring trees,

the sunshine's zealotry, its deep

unevenness. For history

is the opposite

of the eye

for whom, for instance, six million bodies in portions

of hundreds and

the flowerpots broken by a sudden wind stand as

equivalent. What more

is there

than fact? I'll give ten thousand dollars to the man

who proves the holocaust really

occurred said the exhausted solitude

in San Francisco

in 1980. Far in the woods

in a faded photograph

in 1942 the man with his own

genitalia in his mouth and hundreds of

slow holes

a pitchfork has opened

over his face

grows beautiful. The ferns and deepwood

lilies catch

the eye. Three men in ragged uniforms

with guns keep laughing

nervously. They share the day

with him. A bluebird

sings. The feathers of the shade touch every inch

of skin--the hand holding down the delicate gun,

the hands holding down the delicate

hips. And the sky

is visible between the men, between

the trees, a blue spirit


anything. Late in the story, in northern Italy,

a man cuts down some trees for winter

fuel. We read this in the evening

news. Watching the fire burn late

one night, watching it change and change, a hand


lodged in the pulp the young tree

grew around, explodes, blinding the man, killing

his wife. Now who

will tell the children

fairy-tales? The ones where simple

crumbs over the forest

floor endure

to help us home?

From "The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1971-1994" by Jorie Graham. (Ecco: $23; 192 pp.) 1995 Reprinted by permission.

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