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 Indiana, where she works as a virtual assistant, editor, and freelance writer via her self-started business, MLT Creative. She 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 Poetry Editor for Third Coast. She previously completed her B.S. in Secondary English Education and B.A. in English, with a Concentration in Writing, at Indiana University South Bend, where she worked as the Managing Editor for 42 Miles Press. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Encore Magazine, Thank You for Swallowing, The Spooklet, Sleet Magazine, and Analecta, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared on The Rumpus and Motherly. When not writing, she enjoys art and music, and the simple mathematics of being a wife of one, a mama of two, and a cat-mom of three. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com. View all posts by mckenzielynntozan

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