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Matt Mauch

There is the Hiding, Here is the Seeking


And nobody’s here, unless you count as a somebody

an analog recording of a honey-smooth baritone voice

accompanying footage from the 1960 Olympiad

playing on a loop on a TV you get to like a lab mouse

following symbols and signs through a test maze

of haunted hallways after a gondola ride

to the top in an empty car

that reminds you of a womb

in a lab, which makes it feel like

an experiment, this going to see

the hermit seer sage in his cave above the tree line

on the day O Wise One goes to the village

for provisions but leaves behind a note

in the form of a film

in which athletes are stretching

like a meadow of gentians

following the contradictory orders

of their acclaimed coaches the breeze, the sun,

over which the honey smooth voice pours out:

They’re in a race, and in the race

most of them will get exercise only—

only three will win a medal

which makes you want to protect

the ones who’ll lose, like the mother

of a very large family, like, say,

a red snapper laying millions of eggs, and

suddenly you want to know the population of Las Vegas

ten years ago versus now. You think of ten years from

one second ago, when you will feel, if

you’re more than a disembodied voice,

responsible for not issuing a warning

sooner. On the way down the mountain

you understand what the seer sage

is saying: that honey-smooth will always taste

good to the tongues in your ears, and balancing

expertly on the miniature avalanches

beneath each of your downward-angled

steps will go unheralded unless

you herald it, which isn’t in your make-up,

you who now believe that your best

teachers are the ones with straight faces

telling you lies. 

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