Untitled by Jordan Stepaniuk

after Inger Christensen’s “Alphabet”

Wolves exist, wolves with wide yellow eyes, exist;
wild wolves, and winter, and windows
wild-eyed wolves staring me down;
wolves and wind in the willows exist;
discovering the sea lion in 1891 exists,
1891 exists, and ducks; ducks and Gershwin in the rain
and empty reservoirs in the rain exist,  
rain that isn’t really rain but mist exists;
alone with the ducks, and the water reeds, and the trees
and if I am alone,
with only the ducks, and the sounds of rain in the reservoir,
do I exist?

rainy afternoon, August 1

Ducks exist, ducks and dark waters;
ducklings exist, if ducks exist; and rain,
rain exists
rain and reservoirs so gray they could be filled of ash,
ash; ash exists, and flames, and falling
speaking words that mix with soot
crumbling as soon as they leave your tongue, exists,
crying tears without salt, only the ashes of a family;
family exists, filling the reservoir with tears so the ducks do not drown in the ash ;
ash mixed with duck feathers grayer than the ash and the water over which they float
grayer than the sky from which we fall, these things exist.

If things happen in an instant, the ordinary instant,
then the ordinary instant must exist;
ice floes exist, ice and discovering the sea lion,
the ordinary, mundane, the routine,
daily routine exists, and days, yes, days still exist,
ordinary days that dawn temperate and nearly cloudless
in the eastern United States exist.

morning, September 11

Dinosaurs don’t exist
Tyrannosaurus Rex and his scrawny limbs
and his beady eyes;
Velociraptors plundering the eggs of prehistoric ducks;
ducks exist,
and a crater in Mexico, deeper than it is wide, exists;
and Quetzalcoatlus, the largest creature to ever fly,
mighty Quetzalcoatlus fell from the sky
drowning in a cloud of ash;
Quetzalcoatlus doesn’t exist.

Food exists; food and falls of water
and the Révolution Française;
Robespierre, Thermidor, storming the Bastille
exist; Napoleon exists, and the Reign of Terror and the Second Regime,
and Marie Antoinette did exist;
Marie Antoinette who said let them eat cake;
cake exists
the taste of cake exists if saliva exists
only if saliva exists does cake really exist;
ash-flavored everything exists,
a thousand televisions screaming one thing;
Indian Summer exists, and children screaming in the streets;
children must exist, if evil exists; and
children, evil isn’t something that happens far off,
it suddenly touches you on the arm.