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Attention by Rachel Hadas 



Sunset.  Midtown.  The crowd flows west and east;

rush hour.  That here I stand

unmoving, with a notebook in my hand,

makes some few glance up as they scurry past.


People who closely peer at any scene

as it's unfurling draw, apparently,

speculation as to what they see.

Like courage or like fear, attention


is, it turns out, communicable; spreads

through crowds.  Of course contrariness also

may figure: shun me, so I stare at you.

One needn't be a beauty to turn heads.


Transfixed and focused, anyone can be

a momentary magnet to the eye

of the most abstracted passerby

drawn by our species' curiosity.


"What you look hard at seems to look hard

at you," wrote Hopkins, who had earned the sense

of an immanent intelligence

glinting in asphalt, curled within each word.


Per Contra Spring 2007