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This hour, while a child sleeps, before he wakes and those arcadian hours we make together— is it a continued arch, vaulted, open at both ends, is it a bending?—recommence. Yes, a bending. Light before you'd call it light bluing the sky. The old city below, a fidget toy's string of buildings; doves calling and answering from ledges in the cavities; a low branching into divisions of memory; a hot afternoon's lunch on the grounds of the museum, children at play in tethered circles; traffic and voices from the avenues carrying along the bright cold mornings on the lawns of big houses near the hotel; those who saw me home, whoever they were (though I know who they are), I also saw them home. I rode in their cars. I rode with the mother of the boy who lost all his words, she gave us a ride, the boys with their large eyes, sitting up high beside each other and smiling; the empty avenues of asphalt from the station to the new hospital to the corner we rounded and, past the galvanized fence, a school; the city narrows there; there is the river, suddenly; and then a spread of houses like a cowl on the head of the island; a journey whose meaning was as yet unknown though I know it sometimes; sheep on a patch of land at the convergence of two superhighways; no silence in the train; harvesters in orange and red slickers among the lettuces; swifts overhead; apricots flecked with rose; lichen spreading on corrugated iron; short-wave voices of those who are gone now remembered in the intonation of throwaway phrases; it should not follow but it follows; and are their fathers here; one of them is, white stubble where his razor didn't pass that calls up his morning, the temperature of his cheek, and how luck befriended us then, and at this hour, which rests on a child's sleeping.
"I was thinking about how distinctly I experience time in the 'uncertain hour' or hours the poem describes, how infinite time seems when given in those short spans, how far memory can travel before completing its arc in the present moment again." —Saskia Hamilton
Saskia Hamilton is the author of Corridor (Graywolf Press, 2014). She teaches at Barnard College.
"Suicide of a Moderate Dictator" by Elizabeth Bishop
"First Things to Hand" by Robert Pinsky
"Vespers" by Louise Glück
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