Winter 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 1 PoetryJanuary 1, 1999 |

The Odds

In his poem it's not yet daylight  and the young man's mom is headed south when suddenly out of the dawn-broth a horse  appears in the road too close for braking. But don't panic, she's all right; he says  for once she's wearing her seat belt. And it's a soft horse, or a strong fender,  an air bag, angel, just dumb luck—a miracle being no more than a fraction, the one  out of god-knows-what that the young man, my student, is driving at in his poem:  the ratio with the colon's swoop of deliverance that's got the whole class dreamily veering off,  remembering what it was like to dive from the highest point in the quarry rim  and come down so close to a granite sleeper just below the water's duckweed skin  that they rasped the bridge of their noses and took the inch that spared their skulls for proof  of the apportionment of grace. Oh and it breaks my heart to have to be the one who tells them  that for every soft horse there will come a dozen harder down the pi

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Lucia Perillo’s sixth book of poems, On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths (Copper Canyon 2012) was a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle Award and received the Pacific Northwest Booksellers' Award.

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