Don Barkin: “Deus Ex Diorama”


In the dim museum
a nook holds what you’d see
if you dove beneath the scum
beneath a sunken tree.
Your eyes are quickly filled
with minnows playing dodge
and beavers as they build
a weedy dam or lodge.
Lonelyish and glum,
you haunt the lively scene
until your eyes become
adrift in algae green.

A tiny painted bird
dots the canvas sky,
too distant to be heard
if it were to cry.
The bird will never dive
down where turtles creep.
As long as it’s alive
the dot of paint must keep
its path across the sky
and never reach its nest,
the canvas can’t say why.
Just, somebody knows best.

Don Barkin has previously published poems in Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, Poetry Northwest, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Commonweal, and other magazines. He has three full-length books of poems: That Dark Lake (2009), Houses (2017), and The Rail Stop at Wassaic (2020), all by Antrim House.

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