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Nicholas Johnson

Photo by George Kunze


Nicholas Johnson

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Nothing much has changed. The insects
ping against the bellied screen that then
stayed open more than closed, swung
creaking and snapped back like those doors
will do that belong mostly to the poor.
Swung by children and the ones who'd rather
not porch it, yet know of the attendant charm,
rocker and swing, watching the light settle
down into another evening as the guns
of Aberdeen boom out to remind us —
this is still the 20th century. The acres
of corn look more under water every day,
and August is souring the hay with unexpected
rain. The one you'd like to talk to
is sitting with the rest and there are two
lanterns on the table and the folks sit
around hunching and sprawled in a turn
that suits them. You might have considered it
a triumph on another day to fall asleep
with your face in your plate, with all
the heat bugs whining tomorrow's weather.
About the time someone takes out their teeth
to get comfortable, the lights are going out.
Up in that damp bed, you are lying there
as if you knew there were no good reason to go back
where you came from, or to go on, and no
possibility of doing either, but still
not wanting to close your eyes, to bed down
in that perpetual-for-the-night way,
which is what you ought to be doing
if you ever want to look at the morning
like it was going to be morning, and not
the beginning of the same old day.

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