Issue > Poetry
Joshua Weiner

Joshua Weiner

Joshua Weiner is the author of three books of poetry, including The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish. He is also the editor of At the Barriers: On the Poetry of Thom Gunn, all from University of Chicago Press. His most recent books are Berlin Notebook, prose about the refugee crisis (LARB, 2016), and Everything I Do I Do Good: Trumpoems (Dispatches, 2018). He teaches at University of Maryland, and lives with his family in Washington, D.C. 

Narcissus Leaves the Pool


How long did I kneel there
Beckoned by that other one
Who held me in my place
Reflecting back my face,
Witnessing affection                    
Staring into my stare.

Oblivious to all,
I harbored no regret—
They were hard and sharp as stone
Who left me there alone,
Transfixed, and yet                    
Transported through a channel—          

Though what I could discern          
Caught inside that circuit                    
Dried and browned and curled          
Into a barren world
With no one else in it
And nothing more to learn.

And I, in my obsession,
Faded, began to shrink
Like a clenched flower               
Whose head bends lower               
Lower, as if to drink
In my possession.

Now the sweetness of that spring
Can't quench, and what I thirst          
Is the clear deepening difference
Of a different cadence                    
I couldn't hear at first,
So tuned to my own singing.

How did I let her go,
My sister, who is me
And not me, all the same,
Though we may share a name
Even when we can't see
Who's above and who's below,

How shadow mirrors shadow.
But when a falling leaf
Troubled the glass,                    
And passing through the impasse
Keeping me from grief
I didn't want to know,               

Still, it tried to stay
Afloat that former love
That formed another life
Like a cry inside a laugh.
But I had had enough
Of echo. I turned away,

I turned as to allow
Myself to turn again,
Lost in wind and rain
Peppering steps into the green
That promises no end
Even as I stumble                     

To find a new direction
In branches' latticework
And roots' entanglement,
To follow where they went
Like a sentence in a book
Twisting past perfection

That one can almost read,
That I could almost say
Aloud as to another,
If only I went further,
Like nighttime into day,
Sunlight into shade.

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