Man in the Street


He claps a hand
across the gaping hole –

or else the sight might
well inside to

melt the mind (if any
thinking spoke

were in the wheel,
or any real

fright-fragments broke
out of the gorge to

soak the breast, the meaning
might incite a stroke – best

press against it, close
the clawhole, stand

in stupor, petrified. The dream
be damned, the deeps defied.

The hand’s to keep
the scream inside.

first published in The American Scholar Magazine 2006, © Heather McHugh 2006, used by permission of the author. Poetry Foundation recording made on 21 September 2007, New York

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