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Audio: Read by the author.


The country people could hardly
fail to notice our caravan,
——the fineness of our mounts,
our leopard with her jeweled collar.
And flying in advance of us
——our falcons,
their eyes incandescent.

When we drink with these rustics
in their smoky tavernas
——they comment on
our robes’ gold stitching, the polish of our tack.
And seeing I am a man of learning,
——they ask me about the star.

Is it always necessary—
—————-—I think but do not say—
for the eyes of men
——to penetrate the ways of the most high?

I lie openly
when they ask me
—-—why we are traveling.
I talk about spices.
I talk about incense.
I talk about precious metals.



Richard Tillinghast is the author of thirteen books of poetry and five of creative nonfiction. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. His newest collection, Blue If Only I Could Tell You, is forthcoming from White Pine Press.




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