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This poem is taken from PN Review 50, Volume 12 Number 6, July - August 1986.

Icons, Waves Carol Rumens

The scalding gulp that almost clears the glass,
love rushes to the human eye, and lends it
illusions of a focus so exact,
a driver might lurch out, steer straight to death.
But we, late diners who've got tired of dining
and turned to iconography, believe
inaccuracy is also revelation.
Under the broad lamp with its singing bulb,
we stare into each other's brightest stares,
unselfed with curiosity, archaic,
and paint each other in a universe
where nothing's lost by lying in perspective:
I have the details - red formica table,
rinsed baked-bean tin with its clutch of spoons,
your flatmate's skinny plant, the sallow glitter
of our once quickly filled and emptied glasses.
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