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Sarah Getty
Sarah Getty
The publication of her second collection of poems brought Sarah Getty much critical praise and nominations for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award...
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by Sarah Getty

Old eyes, but wiser, says the Greek.  You lose sight of guide-
	lines: I before E, Every Good Boy
	Does Fine, Insert Tab A in Slot B.
Things arrive, at this late date, unlabelled.  All that book-

	learning a waste now--even your mate,
at close range, blurs, becomes a surface with a taste.  
Unlettered, you take up jungle tactics, sniff and grope.
	You might regress to tom-toms, but who

would answer?  Puzzles crowd your path like carnivorous
	plants; your hand goes crazy, writing checks
	to New England Telepath and Faust
National Bunk.  Your grocery list asks for the "apple 

	of life," then "ravishes, letups, grace." 
A meaning leans in with a wink--a wing-beat and it's
off into the mist.  Is a message mixed with all this
	mystery--advice from the next life

for folks who are losing their focus on this one? 
	Is your own hand the medium, patched
	in to paradise, scribe for Something
Higher?  If so, is it advisable to heed it--

	"fix radiances, take out paupers"?    
Not likely, after the time spent getting sensible.
Even uncoded, the Word will turn out some old saw,
	no doubt:  "Love thy neighbor," or "Buy low,

sell high."  You'll try to apply it, but it won't win 
	any prize.  Suppose, though, there's a clue
	in the works, something useful.  Like, "You
there, heads up!  Nothing on paper can save you!  Watch that

	horizon, out where the sea might be."
A tip to heed, if that's the reading.  Indeed, you've had
suspicions--glimpses of something gallumphing there, whiffs
	of the foul or fishy, creeping up

the beach.  You can almost see it now, like a squid, but
	bigger.  Keep an eye out, while there's time
	to imagine alternatives.  Keep
reading the signs: "Deaf End," "Private Poverty," "Wet Pain..."

From The Land of Milk and Honey, by Sarah Getty, published by the University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Sarah Getty. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
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