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(Emil Mayer, Wiener Typen)
I don’t know what they’re called, the chains
that seem to be part of the
harness, but it takes no special powers to see
he won’t be getting up again.
The cart piled deep
with gunnysacks of lading
indeterminate, the cobbled
square, the tram rails, all the nascent/ob–
solescent urban tangle of technologies: but
something here is
dying that is not abstract.
He was not rich
who harnessed the horses in leather–and–
starved them down to gauntness, this is not
the bitter manifest
of one man’s hardened heart.
See him now bending
the fallen one from the shaft. So that
the other, the one whose hooves are still
beneath him, neck still
bearing the weight of the traces through which
he is bound to the one on the
ground, stands quite neglected. It’s
Vienna, 1910, the ignorant
latter days of empire, though
the man with the camera
appears to have comprehended it all. Who loved
the elbowing crowds at the vegetable stand
the hours with his brush
in the lamplight. First
the visible image bleached
away, the silvers ever
the inking–up, by hand, which resurrects
the horses, harness, one
alarmed and one indifferent passer–by, the
book of imperturbability.
The sufferer? Still
passage through brief oblivion nor
the transfer print reversals have done anything
to help him. It’s
his job now, he secures the frame.
Linda Gregerson is Caroline Walker Bynum Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her 2007 poetry collection, Magnetic North, was a finalist for the National Book Award.
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