Indispensable Sign

Under the bank of fountains
in the cavern
between the rounded steps some man

is—what can I say—
showing himself to us?
The funny way we say it:

exposing himself,
as if he were a strip of film.
I had been staring into the distance

and drew up startled.
A sign beneath the stone pediments.
The perch of meaning.

One interjection. One more
dying argument.
How many bodies are piled

on a field, or a bed,
before a language curls like
a million fernheads?

How many turnings,
how much urgent mayhem
to make a culture?

by Lee Upton

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