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It’s impossible sometimes to make your way
through the undergrowth—think of Desoto,
Think of Cabeza de Vaca hacking down briars
with a sword of blinding Toledo steel,
A sword, mind you! In Toledo they’ve made that metal
since 500 BC, and de Vaca was a god, or so he said
To save his own hash, but even he was helpless
before a wall of poison ivy, broken to sweat and spit
By impervious mandevilla. It’s a new continent every time,
you’re a stranger, nothing knows how shining
And vital you are, and every time you get stuck
In a bank of crappy fetterbush, you think of homo erectus
Broaching the cedars of Lebanon that are high and lifted up
but fire comes out of the brambles. You want to speak
Like an angel of the clean cartography of your mind,
but what comes out of your mouth is a tangled mess
Of thorned clichés. Think of Neil Armstrong
lasering mountain laurel in the Sea of Tranquility.
Think of the first human in Paris hammering her way
through impenetrable banks of tourists on the Champs-Élysées.
Think of your body, or the left eye of the white baneberry. Think
of launching the lifeboats into the viney deep. Think of the children.
Copyright 2022 T.R. Hummer
T.R. Hummer’s many books include Available Surfaces: Essays on Poesis (University of Michigan Press, 2012).