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For my Students Who Are Looking At Barnett Newman’s Broken Obelisk
Today, you are looking
at a sculpture and writing
about what you see.
Rusted old thing that sits
In the campus square,
balanced atop a pyramid.
How could we not impose
our politics onto it? How not to
See it as overturned expectations
Or precarious, cold relations?
You will have private theaters,
You will have personal interiors
And I will beckon you from them.
I will ask you to pick out
the pretty shards and build something.
Keep these contraptions for when
the world surprises you
with hostility. Think of the obelisk’s
peak set nose to nose
with the point of the pyramid
and recall all the unlikely ways
we mistake shapes for hope.
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