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By Imtiaz Dharker

Paper that lets the light
shine through,
is what could alter things.
Paper thinned by age or touching,

the kind you find in well-used books,

the back of the Koran, where a hand
has written in the names and histories,

who was born to whom,

the height and weight, who
died where and how, on which sepia date,

pages smoothed and stroked
and turned transparent with attention.

If buildings were paper, I might

feel their drift, see how easily
they fall away on a sigh,
a shift

in the direction of the wind.

Maps too. The sun shines through
their borderlines,
the marks
that rivers make, roads,
railtracks, mountainfolds,

Fine slips from grocery shops
that say how much was sold
and what was paid by credit card

might fly our lives like paper kites.

An architect could use all this,
place layer over layer, luminous
script over numbers over line,

and never wish to build again with brick

or block,
but let the daylight break
through capitals
and monoliths,
through the shapes that pride can make,
find a way to
trace a grand design

with living tissue,
raise a structure

never meant to last,
of paper smoothed and stroked
and thinned to be transparent,

turned into your skin.