A Dream, by Chris Nealon

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From “The Shore,” a manuscript in progress. For Saba Mahmood.

Then I gave it up
I gave up thinking that the song I heard was the song of the world
I gave up lyric, gave up reverie, I gave up aesthesis –
I left my notebook on the park bench open with its pages riffling
      I kept my head down
I said ok fine Elon Musk is the most important person on the planet
I did not read “Ozymandias”
But like that monument I started to crumble
Down I fell, down into earth, down into its deep revising heat –
      And on the other side, my life’s antipode –
      Everything just slightly realigned
                     A hesitation in the driverless cars
                     A hint of lemon in the eucalyptus
      Also absence –
      A shimmer in the air where epic had been
      A little grave of daffodils around the first-person pronoun
      Quiet but not silent – a pitter in the canopy –
You look down at your impression in the grass and go oh, so that’s why we sleep on our sides . . .
You no longer need to know the end of the story
You no longer dread the great devaluation
      No ziggurats collapsing
      No cities on a plain
You shake yourself, head high like a horse,
And step out into all the rain that’s ever rained.

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