Robin Ekiss

The Past is Another Country

I’m no longer in love

with the sand that makes the pearl,


or anything grainy

that hardens its beauty


by passing through pain.

Bone revisits the porous soil


and presses itself into coal.

Whole colonies of canaries


refuse to return from that mine.

Is there anything yellower


than their dark shaft of regret?

The past is another country,


all its cities forbidden,

their borders closed to you


on every side, while here

God has many mansions,


all too small to live in.

When I inherit his palace,


I’ll take my moat everywhere,

making difficult any crossing.



“The Past is Another Country” first appeared in New England Review, Vol. 24:4 (Winter 2003): 223.