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Elegy

by Ben Lerner
Illustration by Caitlin Foster

Elegy

Ben Lerner
9 Snaps

Hey, what’s the deal with lime and basswood
Are they the same tree, I ask because
Late in the form, I wanted to address you

Against a stand of ornamentals, pale
Yellow flowers, hermaphrodite, in cymes
Of three to ten, typically late summer

When the sun moves through fixed signs
I brush the dead skin from my shoulders
And write a long poem after Schuyler

Which, in late September, I erase
Lateness is my genre, watch it climb
Counterclockwise around available supports

It makes no claim to secret knowledge
Anymore, I’ve let that go, the focus now is on
Negative liberty, to borrow a phrase

More or less at random, I devised a scheme
For reviving poetry, then set it aside
In a gesture of great peacefulness and beauty

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