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Clare Rossini
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These Passing Venial Wonders

Let us speak of the summer night,
Warm as a wave on one of the midwest’s dying lakes,

So that the sign, tubed and red in the window of Nicky’s Gas ’n Goods—
Open

Sinks into my eye as I drive by, tripping the neural
Goat-paths to the brain.

As the car speeds on toward the town’s
Ragged perimeter, where corn, husk-prim, full of itself, noses up

Toward the spare-change moon,
Some nook of my gray matter opens, spews a rememberer’s feast

Of Nicky’s cornucopic shelves, the stern boxed mixes
(Cakes in waiting, helpers of meat)

Side-by-side with tin-colored bags of snacks, some twisted and looped,
Knobby with salt, others

Cast into rounds so consistent
A god might look askance on creatures whose ambitions divine

Such deep-fried geometries, while in their refrigerated keep,
Bottles of juice bead with dew, their labels conjuring

No less than utopia, tropical isles, or in the case of the cola Vavoom
The power released when that same dubious god

Tossed the universe out and, as if to a many-petalled peony, said
Open

Meanwhile, back at Nick’s, the cashier-boy checks his watch. Time
To lock the till, sweep the floor, and

(He’s a god, too) flick off the forests
Of fluorescents, the boxes and cans all at once winked out, the tropical isles

Going dark,
And dark, the utopias.

 

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