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J.D. Smith



May we imagine the land as it was
before the daguerreotypes of fenced-in fields
that provide our idea of before.

May we at greater length imagine the land
crossed by the saber-toothed cat and the other great beasts
that would fall to hunger, stone blades and points.

Given the concrete world before us,
effluent of centuries' works and choices,
let us confess we cannot imagine
the big bluestem seas, the weather of passenger pigeons.

Let us revere that former land
as a foundation, an ancestor's tomb, a circle
of being that hardly resembles our own,

discerning how those circles,
as in a diagram, overlap
or how they may, at some point, still touch.


J.D. Smith is the author of Settling for Beauty (Cherry Grove Collections, 2005) and The Hypothetical Landscape. He also edited the anthology Northern Music: Poems About and Inspired by Glenn Gould, and has published poetry and prose in numerous journals. He was awarded a 2007 Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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