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as if a road could be otherwise but geometry
defies the man who is lost on the road that
the trees want to reach and reach down
to his walking on
along a verticality that defies
the requirements of normative perspective
and so he will reach, and the trees against chalk—
the gesture of the arm extended is central
to all Soutine’s work be it a branch or an ache
or a split of the face, going off. In this case
can you say that a man is lost just because
you cannot distinguish him from the background.
Born in 1955, Cole Swensen is the author of more than ten poetry collections, including Landscapes on a Train (Nightboat Books, 2015). She is coeditor with David St. John of the anthology American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (W. W. Norton, 2009).