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"Mountain View" is the first section of a long poem by Mary Kinzie, "California Sorrow," which is also the title of the book in which it is found. The poem explores her personal romantic grief as a way of setting the stage for the telling of other legendary local sorrows, including the relationship between T. S. Eliot and his American girlfriend Emily Hale, who tour the Southern California desert in her roadster on their way to a hamburger joint known as the "In and Out"—a site that was also visited, we learn in this many-layered poem, by Kenneth Koch and Marianne Moore.

Mountain View

Mountains did             look in
           the windows of the thin aluminum room
           over loud tar paper roofs

                     We could see how
covered with lime or snow
backed away
           a little wounded
from their literal distance

Bruce all night
          the moonlight chafed the bed

his eyes also hot
watching me
burning his will into act so he could keep
lifting me waking me

                    (with their strange bodies

from the shallows of half-sleep
in which there was no ground
to anchor in

                    (men move in another world

                    How could I
shoulder back
the shoulders of his yearning
where he lay

atop the sheets his
desire changed by devotion
but still desire awake alive
flooding the atmosphere

          (everything he had to give
          was given
          and I did not want it


always in the ear
like a drone instrument

the highway


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About Mary Kinzie

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Excerpt from CALIFORNIA SORROW. Copyright © 2007 by Mary Kinzie. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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