Carolyn Stice: Ars Poetica

-I don’t know how
the palm trees opened up my greedy heart.
-Adam Zagajewski
 
Evening is drawing to a close, and the baby who cannot
yet crawl is shuffling herself across the quilt,
 
defying the need for sleep. It’s 8, then 9, then 10 pm,
and sometimes you think you’d like to shock her,
 
just once or twice, on the fattest part of her thigh.
Enough to make her cry, but not wail,
 
to want comfort but not feel despair.
There are places where women throw girls like her
 
into dank wells, or slop buckets.
Where half the boys saved, will find themselves
 
in twenty years with an empty chair
at a table their wife would have filled had she not been fed to the pigs.
 
What is longing, if it cannot be the flurry of two
young robins tumbling mid-flight in a blur
 
of claw on wing? Even the wild turkey can flap itself
over the arch of the house roof
if two dogs, with noses working on triple speed,
flush out his scent from the dark of the forest.
 
Perhaps it is enough to open a jar
of heart of palm and let those slender layers
 
slip over your tongue.



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