“The City” began as an exercise, an attempt to work with the form David Ferry invented in his “One Two Three Four Five”: a single word is repeated in each line of a five-line poem, placed initially toward the front of a line and with each succeeding line moving further toward its end. I didn’t adhere strictly to David’s form in my poem, but the principle of progressive repetition in his model helped me construct a parable that remains resonant for me.
I had been thinking about the idea of the City on the Hill and reading about Cities of Refuge in biblical-era Palestine, where those who had committed manslaughter were protected from acts of vengeance.
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