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You come ashore to sight of castings,
an engine house, the far-off silhouettes
of fieldwork and minehaul. The sound
of this island is assembly, manufacture
knolled into landscape. You breathe
in air and taste ore. If you expected
welcome, you were mistaken.
What you know of this place—hills
the beaten texture of worked metal,
a winter the white silver of tin
won from cassiterite—are the elements
of something approaching myth.
The trick by which an island disappears
is not through a trapdoor in a metaphor
of the cardboard theatre of the world,
is not the shift of tectonic plates:
the island becomes the tale of island;
its inhabitants, figures of inhabitants.
Lytton Smith is Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at SUNY Genesco. He is the author of three poetry collections: My Radar Data Knows Its Thing (Foundlings Press), While You Were Approaching the Spectacle But Before You Were Transformed By It (Nightboat Books), and The All-Purpose Magical Tent (Nightboat Books).
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