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Page 97

Blankness is blankness, a secret
about nothing, the child's hilarious secret,
whispered incomprehensibly (all warm moist breath
and bubble-gum scent and giggles) close to your ear,
a joke, gibberish, no secret at all, you've been had,
the writing on your face, laugh lines, crows' feet,
tear channels, smile channels, dark bags of anxiety --
all folds on a baby's blank face, as alien
as weather, laugh lines where we've realized too often
that something big is nothing at all; grief lines
where we've realized that what we knew we had
is no longer ours and probably never was;

all these presences of absences, sign posts pointing
to one-time futures that never happened,
incomprehensible skin-scrawls marking a blankness
to remind us that nothing is there -- it's like death:

The body is vacant, so we put it in an ornate box
(see, everybody -- there he is!), then seal the box,
so that it contains something, but what it contains
is nothing unless that body contains something,
so by putting nothing in a box, we are telling ourselves
that nothing is something -- our friend is in that box
(strange consolation), because who would seal up
nothing in a box? -- it must be something!

Look, Time, you've written all over my face!
I must mean something!

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