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Poetry

Asking peopleWhat happens to them          after they dieIs like asking babies in the wombWhat happens to them          After they’re born—How can they answerWhen they don’t even know

the laser brush we watchedburn soot off the gownof an ancient kore

the Delphic light, siftedthrough the nets of the godsto fall on us

a cold wet compress to her foreheada brisk rub and warm breath on her pale little handsa shiver     her eyes blink twice then openspring comes around slowly

Yesterday morning I’m pretty sure it was yesterdayI started walking along the beach toward someone whowould meet me at my destination. Where it was orwho it was I can’t remember off the top of my head.

Cancer is not a ringing bell,a queen of spades. Cancer is notyour mother’s hand-me-down, strung likepearls along the lymph nodes,smoky quartz clustered in the caving lung,

I’m sitting on a park bench noodling linesfrom a Billy Stayhorn song, Somethingto Live For, “watching the noon crowds,”when a woman bumps me with her hip.“How are you,” she asks, and I choke

Mom said, Kiss her hand.I didn’t want to kiss my teacher;especially not on the bulginggreen vein of her thin hands.I think she had red hair. She waskind. She sent a memo home:

Incense and extinguished candlesScent my small-town Saturday night.Post-benediction, our priest returns to the rectory.Stained-glass filters church light into the dusk.A mourning dove signals daylight’s departure.

looking asleep—his only sign of injury a crookedand bloody nose—and thought perhaps I’d get a poemout of it—this corpse I nearly stumbled overin the dark cedar copse. But the world

My brother and I conjured a swamp of black water,filled it with saw-toothed specimens, upping the anteof our basement games. Any trek downstairs

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