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The authentic! Shadows of it
sweep past in dreams, one could say imprecisely, 
evoking the almost-silent 
ripping apart of giant
sheets of cellophane. No.
It thrusts up close. Exactly in dreams
it has you off-guard, you 
recognize it before you have time.
For a second before waking
the alarm bell is a red conical hat, it
takes form.


The authentic! I said
rising from the toilet seat.
The radiator in rhythmic knockings
spoke of the rising steam. 
The authentic, I said
breaking the handle of my hairbrush as I 
brushed my hair in
rhythmic strokes: That’s it, 
that’s joy, it’s always
a recognition, the known 
appearing fully itself, and 
more itself than one knew.


The new day rises
as heat rises,
knocking in the pipes
with rhythms it seizes for its own 
to speak of its invention—
the real, the new-laid
egg whose speckled shell
the poet fondles and must break 
if he will be nourished.


A shadow painted where 
yes, a shadow must fall. 
The cow’s breath
not forgotten in the mist, in the
words. Yes,
verisimilitude draws up 
heat in us, zest
to follow through,
follow through,
transformations of day
in its turning, in its becoming.


Stir the holy grains, set 
the bowls on the table and 
call the child to eat.

While we eat we think,
as we think an undercurrent 
of dream runs through us 
faster than thought
towards recognition.

Call the child to eat,
send him off, his mouth
tasting of toothpaste, to go down 
into the ground, into a roaring train 
and to school.

His cheeks are pink
his black eyes hold his dreams, he has left 
forgetting his glasses.

Follow down the stairs at a clatter 
to give them to him and save 
his clear sight.

Cold air
comes in at the street door.


The authentic! It rolls 
just out of reach, beyond 
running feet and
stretching fingers, down 
the green slope and into 
the black waves of the sea.
Speak to me, little horse, beloved,
tell me
how to follow the iron ball,
how to follow through to the country
beneath the waves
to the place where I must kill you and you step out 
of your bones and flystrewn meat
tall, smiling, renewed, 
formed in your own likeness.


Marvelous Truth, confront us 
at every turn,
in every guise, iron ball, 
egg, dark horse, shadow,
of breath on the air,

in our crowded hearts
our steaming bathrooms, kitchens full of 
things to be done, the
ordinary streets.

Thrust close your smile
that we know you, terrible joy.

© Denise Levertov