Friday, February 22, 2008

Addiction as Ecotone - Part 12 - Neil Aitken

In the Long Dream of Exile - Neil Aitken

You are counting the dark exit of crows
in the rear view mirror, or from the top of an overpass
looking back into the last flames of cloud.
Your car, steel to the world of flint, rests listless
with its windows wide, the stars slipping in
and settling down for the night.

Now, what you could not leave rides in boxes
heavy with numbers and places you've already
turned into poems. There is nothing left
in your pockets, your clothes worn down
to this list of miles taking you out of the known earth.

Outside your open window, the dark repeats
like the wind in late fall, twisting the names
of familiar back roads into a long rope of sighs.
You could lower yourself down with such longing.
It could be a woman or a young girl, the way the light
clings to that body like a sheet of immaculate heat,
invisible to the eye, but something, you are certain,
something that must be on the verge of love.

Neil Aitken is the author of The Lost Country of Sight, which won the 2007 Philip Levine Prize and is forthcoming this fall from Anhinga Press. His work has been published in Barn Owl Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Drunken Boat, Poetry Southeast, Sou'wester, and elsewhere. He is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review and is currently pursuing a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Southern California.
"In the Long Dream of Exile" was first published in The Drunken Boat, and also appears in his first book, The Lost Country of Sight. Neil writes that this poem "grows out of a love of loss gained from countless cross-country moves. Even now whenever I load up my vehicle to begin another move, shedding whatever I think I will not need, I am surprised to discover how deeply entangled I have become with the place I am leaving and how each new place blurs with the one before and the one before that, image upon image, longing after longing, the road the single thread stitching us all together."

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