Readings in Contemporary Poetry

Cole Swensen


This is what you must know: (this
is the background of the story, the
foundation, the
              1) the city is white
2) most cities are white
3) All cities are white; it's in their nature, by definition and clearly stated

4) that a white city is often far away, often far out to sea, at times across a 
plain, a shimmer or as if silt falling, fine-grained, a counting sand, a seed well-

1) made of talc
2) made of chalk
3) made of sugar, which melts in the sun. This is a city on which the sun 
pours down.

A man in passing glanced in a window, and all he'd ever seen was there. In the 
next street a person turned at a sound. In the next one, a boy walked along,
counting the paving stones. One, one, one, one, one.

© 1999