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“Our Duties Are in Relation to One Another”

Feel unique in roiling solitude? Oh, you are not alone
though you may feel fallen, snow up your nose. Join
            with others in your dank reclusion.

How do you find something worth saying?
How do you find desire to find desire
            to find something worth saying?

And yes. That is where you might be: twice —
or is it thrice — removed in a receding
            mirror of acedia. Finding a way to

find a way to want to find a way back in
to conversation. This is what negative numbers
            (a negative soul) feel like: You want to want to want …

If you go back far enough — lateral excavation —
will you hit bone? So many converging lines yakking
            to themselves over a haywire switchboard

you used to find out who you were through
cookie crumbs tossed down your own path.
            Now that you have no crumbs, don’t

even have pockets to turn out—only the memory
of such acts, such things. How weary, stale, and
            profligate it seems to be to plasticize these

lines. You’re in a hamless state of mind.
Now get out and talk to anyone your age: Like you
            they’ve all got Death studded on the tongue, which

livelies up the talk they walk.

Poetry, December 2012

Sharon Dolin ( is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Whirlwind (2012) and Burn and Dodge (2008), both published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.


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