Summer 2008, #15
       "Convenient Acts of Human Behavior"

Two Poems

     by Adam Dickinson

A Spade in The Canadian Shield
   After Ludwig Wittgenstein

Sand is the form
disagreement takes
when no one can remember the argumentó
only that it persists.

Small stones fill the contours
of a glass perfectly.

Propositions push all the air out,
swallow from higher to lower,
believable as a cup.

The oldest rocks in the world are groundless,
their appeals make no sense.
What language of crusts!
Where they appear, glaciers have scraped sand.

Things grow old in two ways: they collect,
they collapse.

Grain by grain
old quarrels pour out of the Shield,
their rigid crystals
suspended in soft swamps.

Many have imitated water
to make claims for nature.

But where was it we originally stood?
What is the density of a beach,
a cupful of mud?


Fish were faster swimmers
when they lost their bony shields,
their phosphorous claims
to shoals, to reefs, and wore instead
the glass knives of their speed.

You splash water on your face in the morning
and the air sings for a moment of rivers,
at the midpoint of falling, before the arm's reach,
its unarmed weight.

Everything is meddlesome.
The air comes as though from damp lungs,
extends its questions out into your lifeó
the wind, the water it wears.
You step into your clothes still wet.