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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now writing a dissertation on the sonnets of E. A. Robinson at LMU, where he tutors composition alongside editing flyers on poetry and style. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor at Review of International American Studies. He also teaches at Münchner Volkshochschule and leads the Amerikahaus Literaturkreis.

20160321

Dreamwood

In the old, scratched, cheap wood of the typing stand
there is a landscape, veined, which only a child can see
or the child’s older self,
a woman dreaming when she should be typing
the last report of the day.   If this were a map,
she thinks, a map laid down to memorize
because she might be walking it, it shows
ridge upon ridge fading into hazed desert,
here and there a sign of aquifers
and one possible watering-hole.    If this were a map
it would be the map of the last age of her life,
not a map of choices but a map of variations
on the one great choice.  It would be the map by which
she could see the end of touristic choices,
of distances blued and purpled by romance,
by which she would recognize that poetry
isn’t revolution but a way of knowing
why it must come.     If this cheap, massproduced
wooden stand from the Brooklyn Union Gas Co.,
massproduced yet durable, being here now,
is what it is yet a dream-map
so obdurate, so plain,
she thinks, the material and the dream can join
and that is the poem and that is the late report.

1987

Adrienne Rich

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