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The Friday poem: A sequence from ‘Echo in Limbo’, by Andrew Johnston

New verse by Paris-based writer Andrew Johnston.

 

Deuteronomy

South of the past,
dreaming she was still alive,

Echo came in low, under the dateline,
over the mud flats, mirroring.

To see the plane kiss its shadow
she would have to be somewhere else

but she sees it, she sees everything
kissing everything. She was the pool,

his face bending lovely, lips
touching down.

Ezra

 

Forests couldn’t contain her rage.
Echo chose a grove of oaks,

listened to their rustling,
hoping the gods would tell her

what to do with her anger.
If she hacked rocks and stacked them up,

she would only want to tear them down.
As when the temple foundation was laid

with trumpets, cymbals, a shout of joy
so loud no one heard the old men weeping.

Jeremiah

Echo’s thought-boat rode
the overlapping line

of thriving and dying, its peaks of hope,
its valleys rich with failure. She wanted

to rescue the kingdom from itself,
to light its lamp and polish its wings. She

needed a little less news, a moment
of nothing, of nowhere. There was

so much meaning in her life.
She didn’t know what any of it meant.

 

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