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The Money We Owed for Being Near the Castle


We had our hands full of unforgiving sunlight.

It was like a dream of peregrines, only softer.

We traded particulates for stones. We asked for more.

I once shook the hand. I once shook the banana tree.

It was like not going to a party because of the noise.

It was like not going to a movie because you’re alone.

Every time I go to the park, a new child asks

if I could be her father, just for a little while.

I’ve learned how to compliment a handstand.

Every ounce is like a full bird, a bottle. Or that experiment

where you take an aquarium and never think

to fill it with water. We traded dreams: in mine

there wasn’t even an ounce of particulate. Yours

had a scene where you don’t fill the aquarium

with fish. Or it was like that restaurant in Prague,

where the bill had six or seven surcharges,

where we never really noticed the birds,

where the ocean seemed neither far nor near,

where one of the surcharges I could translate,

because I knew enough of the language:

the money we owed for being near the castle.

I’ve learned how to compliment a handstand

without promising I will be here tomorrow.


—Richard Sonnenmoser

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