A Woman On The Dump

written by Debora Greger

A Woman On The Dump

— Debora Greger

Is it peace,
Is it a philosopher’s honeymoon, one finds
On the dump?
—Wallace Stevens
Out of the cracks of cups and their handles, missing,
the leaves unceremoniously tossed, unread,
from a stubble of coffee ground ever more finely
into these hollowed grounds,

the first shift coaxes bulldozers to life,
sphinxes to tease the riddled rubble
into fresh pyramids of rot. A staleness warms enough
to waft round the lord of all purveyed.

His to count the hauls past the yawning gates
of this New Giza into the Middle Kingdom’s
Late Intermediate Period. There, to purify,
to honor ourselves, we beg these offerings

of refuse be cast out. To the archaeologist
of the far-flung future, enough evidence
in the inscriptions to identify most owners:
spells scratched on the backs of envelopes

to be read out before animal sacrifice,
the milk, ground meat, beer, and soap
joined in this hereafter with the feast’s remains.
Over tomatoes splitting their sides,

over a teacup stained with roses
flattened into mosaic petal from petal,
earthmovers move a little mountain
and, having moved it, move on,

overturning a diamond sprung from its ring,
glitter to a magpie’s covetous eye.
If the art of loneliness is landscape,
armload by carload of black-bagged leaves,

landfill contours its likeness.

About the poet


Debora Greger

Debora Greger is an award-winning American poet as well as a visual artist. She was raised in Richland, Washington. She attended the University of Washington and then the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She then went on to hold fellowships at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Florida. Her poetry has been included in six volumes of The Best American Poetry and she has exhibited her artwork at several galleries and museums across the country. She also has a poem on Poetry 180 in number 42. Her work appeared in Paris Review, The Nation, Poetry, and The New Criterion. She lives...

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