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Owens, Elisabeth, R. (ed.) / Encore: more of parallel press poets

Brown, Harriet, 1958-
How the mind works,   p. 11

Page 11

How the Mind Works 
Lapping and overlapping waves 
crash and slap and leave behind 
miles of trash and sand. 
Slipping on surfaces, watch 
for maps that lead somewhere else. 
What happens is always happening 
and happened-endless rapprochement 
of past and present, stopgap, 
all covered over, uncovered 
so many times only the odd 
bits show: an apple core, 
a cardboard flap, a mystery 
package poking up, a hand. 
What's buried: the bone 
of things, hard, unchanging, 
impervious to rain and rot, 
no loose change but 
the clap of something true. 
Harriet Brown 
Poet's Statement 
This poem began with my giving myself permission to play-something I don't
often enough. I set out to experiment with rhyme and meter and not get too
intent on 
making meaning out of it. At the time I was researching an article on neurotransmit-
ters for The New York Times. I'm not trained as a scientist, so I had to
start pretty much 
from scratch in understanding the brain. I became fascinated by the image
of a tiny 
pulse of electricity leaping the synapse. What a metaphor, not only for thought
but for 
connection of all kinds-how indirect it is, how oblique. We think of ourselves
as ana- 
lytical and linear, but in fact in our lives there is always both a gap and
a leap over it- 
maybe that's the essence of being human. 

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