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Dear Doctor Franklin

                                    Ryan Teitman


Everything is an invention,
I’ve come to learn. The way we press

into each other on the morning train—
that brush of cloth and wool

that seeps into us like a benediction,
or how the old woman

waiting for the bus folds her newspaper
into quarters, and presses it

to her face when she thinks no one
is watching—how the smell of ink

and newsprint reminds her of her
night shifts at the printing plant,

how she crawled into bed
still in boots and a work shirt,

and ran dye-purpled hands
down her neck. I see eyeglasses

on everyone nowadays—
It comforts me to know that light

visits us all differently,
that the imprecisions of our bodies

can work on us the way a cabinet maker
tends panel after panel

of soft wood. The city rouses slowly
these mornings—I watch it rattle

in the handprinted windows
of the train. I want to find the line

where the city becomes the city,
where invention becomes instrument.

Some days I see it in the moment
the graffiti thickens near the tunnels,

or when the train stumbles
into the city’s shadow—when the light

we knew becomes delicate and cruel—
and I see how fragile our eyes will become.


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