How shall that Sentimentalist love the Mississippi?
His love is a trick of mirrors, his spit’s abstraction,
Whose blood and guts are filing system for
A single index of the head or heart’s statistics.
Living in one time, he shall have no history.
How shall he love change who lives in a static world?
His love is lost tomorrow between Memphis and
the narrows of Vicksburg.

(Thomas McGrath, from “The Topography of History”)


Dear Stranger

Dear stranger
extant in the memory by the blue Juniata,
these letters
across space I guess
will be all we will know of one another.

So little of what one is threads itself through the eye
of empty space.

Never mind.
The self is the least of it.
Let our scars fall in love.

(Galway Kinnell, from “Dear Stranger Extant in Memory by the Blue Juniata”)