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A Walk in the Park

To be born again, you need

an incarnation specialist—a team

from the Bureau of Needles

to thread you through—

Your next life


on an axle of light—which Plato likens

to a turning

spindle—what was that?

I mean I knew

what a spindle was

from fairytales—how it could

draw blood

from a testing finger, put a kingdom

to sleep—

but what

did it actually do, how

did a spindle look

in real life?

I didn’t know. As with

so many things:

there was fact and there was

a believed-in dream . . .

Everyone had one back

in the ancient day,


When we had to weave

our living-shrouds

by hand.

“A slender rounded rod

with tapered ends,” Google said. Plato’s,

so heavy with thread,

when viewed from the side,

looked like a top—

though most diagrams assumed

the hawk-lord view . . .

Moon thread, threads of the planets, earth thread.

Your thread.

Everyone else’s.

Nested one

inside the other, a roulette


If a thread could be spun from liquid light was what

I kept thinking—

imagining a sluice

of electric souls

between the earth wheel’s rims—

there “I”

was a piece of water, Necessity

wheeled it around―Necessity,

who was married to Time,

according to the Greeks—

Mother of the Fates.

Who would measure and cut your

paradise/shithole extra life . . .

Well we all have ways of thinking about



anyone’s born—

though the answer’s always Life’s


—how it hurls and breaks!

on Death’s No there

there . . .

which sounded kind of Buddhist.

According to the teachings we were all

each other’s dream . . .

And soon able to vanish—

out of the real

without having to die, whoever’s

got the cash—to pay

the brainier ones

to perfect

a Heaven upload—to cut

the flesh-tether

and merge

with the Cloud . . .

Well we all have ways of constructing


To walk alone deep in thought

in a city park

was mine

for several minutes,

thinking about spindles.

Before the vigilance

of my genderdoom

kicked in—

And there it was, the fact

of my body—

all the nerves in my scalp

and the back of my neck,


How it moved through space, how close

it had strayed

toward concealing trees, my

female body—

Jewish body—inside my

White body—dreaming

it was bodiless

and free . . .

to decide:

how and when and if to fill the body’s hungers—

how and when and if to walk in thought

through the wilderness . . .

before Death comes with its Fascist hat.

Its Park Murder Misogyny hat.

Its Year Ten in a Nursing Home stink


However spun

my thread . . .


it’s peaceful here

in the park, at midday,

if a little deserted. I’ve moved to the path that winds

closer to the street.

Thinking again, as I always do,

about body and soul. How they

infuse each other. How they

hate each other.

How most people pledge allegiance

to one or the other.

How painful it was! To be

such a split



From Now Do You Know Where You Are by Dana Levin, published by Copper Canyon Press; used with the permission of the publisher.


Photo by B. A. Van Sise

DANA LEVIN was born in Los Angeles in 1965 and grew up in the Mojave Desert. She is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Now Do You Know Where You Are (Copper Canyon Press, 2022). Levin is a recipient of many fellowships and awards, including from the NEA and the Library of Congress, as well as the Rona Jaffe, Whiting, and Guggenheim Foundations. She serves as Distinguished Writer in Residence at Maryville University in St. Louis.


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