(August 5, 1950 / Illinois)


Night. Or what

they have of  it at altitude
like this, and filtered
air, what was

in my lungs just an hour ago is now
in yours,
there's only so much air to go

around. They're making
more people, my father would say,

but nobody's making more land.
When my daughters
were little and played in their bath,

they invented a game whose logic
largely escaped me —
something to do with the

of   bubbles and plastic ducks — until
I asked them what they called it. They

were two and four. The game
was Oil Spill.
Keeping the ducks alive, I think,

was what you were supposed to
contrive, as long
as you could make it last. Up here

in borrowed air,
in borrowed bits of   heat, in costly
cubic feet of  steerage we're
a long

held note, as when the choir would seem
to be more
than human breath could manage. In

the third age, says the story, they
divided up the earth. And that was when
the goddess turned away from them.

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