A Favorite Snippet of John Ashbery

from John Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

How many people came and stayed a certain time,
Uttered light or dark speech that became part of you
Like light behind windblown fog and sand,
Filtered and influenced by it, until no part
Remains that is surely you.

*

When I was first introduced to this poem, it was this exact segment, and it was recited… I wrote the lines down in a notebook I had with me and based the line breaks on how the poem was recited. Admittedly, I read the segment this way for so long that I became incredibly partial to it and still struggle when reading the segment in its proper context!

My version:

How many people came and stayed a certain time,
Uttered light and dark speech
that became a part of you,
filtered and influenced by it
like light behind wind-blown sand and fog
until no part that remains is surely you.

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About mckenzielynntozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives and writes in South Bend, Indiana, where she works as the Departmental Secretary of English and World Language Studies at Indiana University South Bend, and remains closely affiliated with 42 Miles Press, New Issues Poetry and Prose, and Wolfson Press. She previously received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University, where she worked as the Layout and Design Editor for New Issues Poetry and Prose and as an Assistant Editor of Poetry for Third Coast. Her poems have appeared in Encore Magazine, Sleet Magazine, Rogue Agent, Thank You for Swallowing, Whale Road Review, The James Franco Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Analecta; and her book reviews have appeared on her website and on The Rumpus. She lives with her husband, their daughter, and three cats. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com. View all posts by mckenzielynntozan

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