In the centre of everything with still pools of shadows and a fire throwing flowers

(MacCaig, 1988:47)

This poem is constructed from oppositions; the simple structure is stocked by brief details that are listed as opposites. One set of opposites doesn't replace the other; they coexist.

But of course one has to come first, so that we do not experience this coexistence until the end. We are left with it; something was held in reserve. In their small space, the contrast injects vitality—cold to heat, unpleasant to pleasant. Imagine the sets placed in reverse order, beginning with:

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