Poems by Catherine Hodges

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Dazzled and Undone

by Catherine Hodges

From Canary December 2008

"If the reader is not at risk, he is not reading.
If the writer is not at risk, he is not writing."
— Harold Brodkey

Have I got this right?
You're saying that if I read or write
right, or well, or truly,
I might as well shut my
eyes, hold
my breath, walk off the edge (which is
crumbling anyway), feel the water
close over my head, the bubbles
surge and roil around me.
Following which I
1) surface, spluttering, or
2) drown, though not without a struggle, or
3) will myself gilled—slits will
do, or the improbable feather sort—
anything to stay found and alive in the
words on the page until I fling myself
     gasping and absurd
back up onto the tide-licked world
which is, it's true, crumbling (or fading, or
shimmering into some sort of dusk).
And lie there, looped in sea grass,
dazzled and undone by what words
attempt and the ways in which they
fail, dumbstruck by pelicans.

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