Frame within frame, the evolving conversation   
is dancelike, as though two could play   
at improvising snowflakes’
six-feather-vaned evanescence,
no two ever alike. All process
and no arrival: the happier we are,
the less there is for memory to take hold of,   
or—memory being so largely a predilection   
for the exceptional—come to a halt   
in front of. But finding, one evening   
on a street not quite familiar,
inside a gated
November-sodden garden, a building   
of uncertain provenance,
peering into whose vestibule we were   
arrested—a frame within a frame,   
a lozenge of impeccable clarity—
by the reflection, no, not
of our two selves, but of
dancers exercising in a mirror,
at the center
of that clarity, what we saw
was not stillness
but movement: the perfection
of memory consisting, it would seem,   
in the never-to-be-completed.
We saw them mirroring themselves,   
never guessing the vestibule
that defined them, frame within frame,   
contained two other mirrors.

  • Amy Clampitt, “Dancers Exercising” from The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt. Copyright © 1997 by the Estate of Amy Clampitt. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

  • Source: The Collected Poems of Amy Clampitt (Alfred A. Knopf, 1997)

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