“The Echo,” a Poem by Mary Jo Bang

for Lucie Brock-Broido

The transient snow in a shaken globe was making me think
of the Moscovian dome, below which,
in a small private room called a cubiculum, I’d read

they had buried an empress’s golden hair.
After she’d died, after “they inquired eagerly
for the tsarina, but she was nowhere to be found.”—

From the Remotest Periods to the Present Time.
Snow becomes rain under the overhead rainforest
showerhead—drop by imbecilic drop dripping

onto a broken stone floor. About the absolute fracture
that death represents, my brain believes in what I believe:
like any animal, we make our way. Amphibian. Reptilian.

Mammalian. Some days more than others, I put away one
moment and up comes another, a replenishing
gold Virgilian bough. Outside, snow engulfs the asphalt,

the sidewalks, the drivers. In a second, it seems
a million trains enter and exit the tunnel.
The flood-protective walls rise, a tower of torn eaves

over a storm-drenched oubliette. The dome dissolves,
leaving only the ineffable portion of this time and the idea
that we who are still here have kept what was left of her.


“The Echo” copyright (c) 2023 by Mary Jo Bang. Reprinted from A Film in Which I Play Everyone with the permission of Graywolf Press. All rights reserved. www.graywolfpress.org

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