Stumps. Railroad tracks. Early sicknesses,

the blue one, especially.

Your first love rounding a corner,

that snowy minefield.


Whether you step lightly or heavily,

you have to get over to that tree line a hundred yards in the distance

before evening falls,

letting no one see you wend your way,


that wonderful, old-fashioned word, wend,

meaning “to proceed, to journey,

to travel from one place to another,”

as from bed to breakfast, breakfast to imbecile work.


You have to get over your resentments,

the sun in the morning and the moon at night,

all those shadows of yourself you left behind

on odd little tables.


Tote that barge! Lift that bale! You have to

cross that river, jump that hedge, surmount that slogan,

crawl over this ego or that eros,

then hoist yourself up onto that yonder mountain.


Another old-fashioned word, yonder, meaning

“that indicated place, somewhere generally seen

or just beyond sight.” If you would recover,

you have to get over the shattered autos in the backwoods lot


to that bridge in the darkness

where the sentinels stand

guarding the border with their half-slung rifles,
warned of the likes of you.

  • Dick Allen, "What You Have to Get Over" from Best American Poetry 2010. Copyright © 2010 by Dick Allen.  Reprinted by permission of Dick Allen.

  • Source: Best American Poetry 2010 (Scribner, 2010)

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