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Wednesday, October 15, 2008


by James Scruton

The label sewn inside a shirt I used to wear
named a country I had never heard of,
one of those new republics
stitched, I thought, from old map lines—
Somewhere-stan, Something-esia or -eria.

No atlas I could find had charted it,
the only globe in my house too
out of date. No one I asked knew
where it was, which continent I should try
to put my finger on, imagining

a patch of landscape and a people
working for next to nothing, their flag
the shirt off my back. For all I know
that country has another name by now,
might have folded back into its neighbor,

my shirt long gone as well, other clothes
like a gathering of piecework shades
in my closet, tags and buttons and seams
from all the usual places, all the usual lives
still hanging by such thread.

James Scruton is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Galileo’s House, winner of the 2004 Poetry Prize from Finishing Line Press. He teaches at Bethel College in McKenzie , Tennessee , where he chairs the Humanities Division and serves as Mary B. Holmes Professor of Literature. He has poems in recent or forthcoming issues of Broken Bridge Review, Broome Review, Steam Ticket, and Connecticut River Review.