BRAID
Roger Mitchell

(excerpt)

A poem that thinks its way toward itself, a poem
        beginning with
the letter "a," poem assuming the worst, as
        well as the best, that the purpose is lost
                but can be found, that it does not know itself
sufficiently,
        but can, that when it arrives there, trembling,

bleeding a little around the mouth, torn from itself,
        having survived
things it cannot, at the moment, know, since it knows
        no language adequate to its condition,
                pretending, as it has for centuries, it is
what it is not,
        is where it cannot be, poem equal

to the world, to the tree, to the fragments of graying
        styrofoam
stuck in the Sargasso Sea, or strung out along
        the fence with the wrappers and torn bags, crushed
                aluminum cans, possum carcasses, dried grass.
The swallow stops
        in mid-flight, then turns avidly bugward....