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         —cento after Barry Lopez


Like a vision through a white picket fence—


Like a salt crust after the tide—


         A great whale lies dying in the forest

         its dying thoughts pass sub rosa leaf to leaf

         in a soft after-rain of twigs


Like the air around a stone—


Like a forgotten name or the taste of a peach—


         The whale feels pain along the ribs

         dismantled by loneliness


         Odour of bruised grass and cracked bone

         hanging in the air


Once an antelope taught it to run


Now it suffers the loudest dreaming, the dreams of boulders—


         And to the anguish of snails

         even the faint movement of its blood


         tolls like rain driven against tower bells

         tolls like the laughing of horses

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