Fall 1982 • Vol. IV No. 4 PoetryOctober 1, 1982 |

Why Your Numbers Do Not Increase

At the hour you climb the stairsOut of the world of your pains and pleasuresUp to the quiet chambers of the seriousAnd find the guidebook open on the tableTo lesson one, "How to Love the Light,"You hear the steps of someone climbing down,Light steps, as if his heavy, golden bookOf duties, followed for years in detail,Seems now to him a forgery.And as you vow today to honor truth,He vows to live from now on for surfaces,Pies and pearls, not for shadows,And take in the party tonight in the Topaz RoomAnd try all the dances,Those he knows and those he has to fake. At the hour you love the womanIn the hand-framed photograph on the deskWith no hope of return, as you love the sunriseOr the bright, oblivious women of VermeerWho live alone like worlds, complete, serene,Someone brushes your door, rushing to the roomWhere his love waits in the darkFlushed with desire only for him.Never again will he pauseAt the window in the hall and watch the lightBurning across the street behind the curta

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Carl Dennis has published numerous books of poetry, including House of My Own (1974), The Outskirts of Troy (1988), Meetings with Time (1992), Practical Gods (2001), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize, and Callings (2010).

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At the hour you climb the stairsOut of the world of your pains and pleasuresUp to the quiet chambers of the seriousAnd find the guidebook open on the tableTo lesson […]

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