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Though the clear morning stood
composed”cloud, dew, and leaf,
the whole shimmering wood”
now it all seems past belief.

We know what happened. How
a man came with his camera
to take these stills of bough
and branch. The old chimera

of harder days had gone
underground. But what brought
him here was not the dawn
light, the tall trunks caught

in chiaroscuro, or
twigs dense as tangled thread.
He’d seen these woods before.
Now past and present wed

the way, in textbooks, bone
at one turn of the page
will suddenly have grown
nerve, muscle, and cartilage”

those intricate details
obscuring what was there.
How to weigh these in the scales
”moss, lichen, the pure air”

with what we’ve already seen:
the fluttering rags, those drawn-
faced children beneath the lean
birches that earlier dawn?

Just so, the story ends
laved clean in August sun.
And still the mind contends
with what can’t be undone:

thick, sun-shot canopies
billowing overhead;
and, beneath the Polish trees,
those faces of the dead”

how beauty and brute fact
here buckle, overlaid
in snapshots, each exact,
in brilliance and in shade.

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