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About this Poem 

“This poem was written when I was anticipating the birth of my daughter. It takes its title from a line in the Daode Jing, and I was drawn to this line’s implication that the messiness and murkiness of experience can clarify best through a combination of passivity and patience. So the speaker is in a state of following, moving through the palimpsest of daily time, seasonal time, and natal time.”
Ted Mathys

Let Muddy Water Sit and It Grows Clear

It’s clear when, in membranous
              predawn blue
I enter pines, mind on
              embryo in amnion,

my tracks preceded
              by those of the dog,
his by a doe’s, hers by six
              hours of snow, it’s clear then

the distance between
              my affections and ability
to touch their sinuosity 
              is itself a felt silence 

called sun. Sun rises
              without provocation
over a frozen stream that frustrates
              reflection, but will

by the time a pulse is palpable,
              have thawed and grown 
clear again, permitting me to see
              a tree surface, distort, flow.

Copyright © 2015 by Ted Mathys. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 16, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Ted Mathys. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 16, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Ted Mathys

Ted Mathys

Ted Mathys is the author of Null Set (Coffee House Press, 2015). He teaches at Saint Louis University and lives in Saint Louis.

by this poet

poem

July 2016

This is the key to the kingdom, rustproof
nickel silver, cut in the hardware aisle
by a man in uniform on a rotating steel 
carbide blade, a vice securing the blank,
the key’s rounded bow a medallion of sun
with a hole punched through to hang
on its galactic

2
poem
I am in the 
main on the 

mend I am in 
Maine on the 

wagon on 
Katahdin in 

an animal
skin I am a 

pencilmaker 
breaking 

a stolen mirror 
metaphor over 

the peak to 
make Maine 

lakes glint in 
sun I broke 

like a main 
clause over 

the forest of the 
page and paused 

to drink from a
literal canteen
poem
We are interested in long criminal histories
because we've never bedded down in a cellblock.
With the sibilance of wind through the swaying
spires of skyscrapers as my witness. When I say 
cover your grenades I mean it's going to rain I mean
there is mischief in every filibuster of sun.

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