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This poem is taken from PN Review 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.

Poems Anne Stevenson


Equisetum, horsetail, railway weed
Laid down in the unconscious of the hills;
Three-hundred-million years' dream still buried

In this hairsoft surviving growth that kills
Everything in the glorious garden except itself,
That thrives on starvation, and distills

Black diamonds, the carboniferous shelf,
That was life before the animals,
Before trilobites and shellfish,

A stratum of compressed time that tells
Truth without language, is the bodystore
Of fire, light, a night without intervals,

That becomes people's living only when strange air
Fills out the folded lungs, the inert corpuscles . . .
Into the mute dark, loud life once more.

So the hills must be pillaged and cored.

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