Dismantling Candide

by Rebecca Spears

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The pen bears down ahead of me while I’m stuck a moment on Candide
and the garden where webworms chew the sweet basil
the dill has gone to seed.

Mint that overgrew its green borders in July—late summer’s steel has cut
it down. Yellow fields outside the city muddle like spilled paint
and no longer please me. 

I cannot name things plainly. My musings over you and pleasure
irrelevant. Instead I stumble over uneven ground as if it were
littered with bodies, humans made insubstantial

hit with mortar and concrete, who no longer resemble us, their inner
workings exposed. Nightly on any channel, the news refuses
to speak with urgency.

A pounding on some butcher’s block goes on all night, not in a foreign
place, nearby just beyond reach. Some poor creature is tortured
then dismantled in the dark.

I see no way to explain the unknown in terms of the unknown. Our
optimism seems misplaced. While I want to think of the fields
yellowing, jutting against blue sky

like geometry, such abstractions wave stupidly. Instead violence sprung
full-grown from our own heads, violence that won’t dissipate.
Anymore I cannot reduce things

to their simplest terms. Though I was once good at tending to you
my own, everything around us seems unreal, some fool’s
rendition of this life. 

Rebecca Spears, a poet and instructor, has an MFA from Bennington College.  Her writing appears in If These Walls Could Speak: The Blanton Museum Poetry Project, Calyx, Minnesota Review, Natural Bridge, Borderlands, Texas Review, Frostwriting, and other publications. She has received scholarships from the Taos Writers Workshop and Vermont Studio Center.

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