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  • Writer's pictureCarrie Etter

Cole Swensen's On Walking On (Nightboat, 2017), first selection

I'm relishing Cole Swensen's new book. Here is a first array of favourite passages:

The first walk: the first line: that so alone am I who loved so is walking

always walking toward. I saw myself in shards. The drift that drives

the eye into time.


Any walk Rousseau once said is endless where the wild might seem

to have a name undone from within the unanswered flaw written out

by hand.


This I who ran adrift. Should it rain. Begin again. The rain.

Kept me in all morning among my hands.


You can see me there wandering, ecstatic

in the green of it, the grove of it, the mind.

Distilled the soul is always found alone in the clearing of a grove.

And shivers in a crowd.


I fell today as I walked I was talking to myself it was something I said

that broke the air and kept on breaking it down into smaller

and smaller pieces.


"In walking is the forgetting of the world" dissolved of body, small

in timing, sharp in lightning, and full of such abandon, hand in hand,

the heart rains from within, I think, the found, once trusted, veers.

from 'Rousseau: The Reveries of a Solitary Walker'

10:15, and a man is walking his cat. Unlikely, I know. He knows it, too. But it looks like an established routine. Man goes one way. Cat stays at corner; man comes back, making here-here noises; cat goes the other way; man follows. The street is calm.

end of 'A Walk on May 17'

And was

neither heard nor herded, although I sensed the gathering forces trying to

gather up the indeterminate group of all things headed forward. I will sort them.

end of first 'Wordsworth'

For whom there was no difference, to walk simply was to write

and vice-versa. Rhythm as a mode of sight

from second 'Wordsworth'

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