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This poem is taken from PN Review 97, Volume 20 Number 5, May - June 1994.

Three Poems Robert B. Shaw

Selva Oscura

Impossible to examine this blown-up
photograph of brain cells without nudging
one's own to scare up some comparisons:
first, we might think here is a line of glyphs,
scratched across a scroll with a reedpen
in emulation of the subtle tracks
on Nile mud of Ibis, the first scribe.
But how to read them? If we trace the hint
of the word dendriteback to its Greek root
we can proceed from there sans lexicon,
and know them for a close-ranked row of trees,
brooding in purple almost black along
a twilit ridge, long-rooted, stubby-limbed,
and winter-leafless: all the birds have flown.
The artfully stained slide and keen microscopy

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