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December 21, 2008 Santa Fe, New Mexico From the Academy Audio Archive

About this poet

Dana Levin is the author of Sky Burial (Copper Canyon Press, 2011). She teaches at Santa Fe University of Art and Design and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

Bardo

Dana Levin
You don't have to break it. Just give it a little 
tap.

tap tap. See,

there's the crack. And if you pry it a little
         with the flat end of that spoon,

you'll be able to slip yourself through.


                               —


To the woods where you're walking. Crushed ice above you
         like a layer of sky—

Some sun under it making it gleam.

Some snow under it bloodless and bright

in the fissured heart, the winter morgue of its imagined
         land.


                               —


Where you can find her—

Sprawled, face down, in the snow—

Bracing herself up, a puff of ice at her chin, then seizing
         and dying all over again—

Automaton. You prop her up.

And it’s like shaking a doll, How dare it, How dare it—

What


                               —


good is she for, there in her dying machine?

You push her shoulders back against the trunk of the tree,
         her chest’s so cold it cracks—

so you can slip yourself through. 
         To the woods she's been walking, 

         wondering where the living have gone.

Copyright © 2008 by Dana Levin. First appeared in Salmagundi. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2008 by Dana Levin. First appeared in Salmagundi. Reprinted with permission of the author.

Dana Levin

Dana Levin

Dana Levin is the author of Sky Burial (Copper Canyon Press, 2011). She teaches at Santa Fe University of Art and Design and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 

by this poet

poem
You put a bag around your head and walked into the river.
You

walked into the river with a bag around your head and you were
never dead 

game on the banks of your
mental styx

for the double
audience

of smoke—


               —


You pressed a coin into his palm and stepped across the water.
You

stepped
poem
In the moment between
the old heart and the new
two angels gather at the empty chest.

The doctors flow over them as winds, as blurs, unnoticed but as currents
around this body, the flesh of the chest peeled back
as petals, revealing

a hole.
In it

the layers are fluttering—the back muscle, the bone, the chrome
poem
Buddhist temple, Tokyo


         One cry from a lone bird over a misted river
is the expression of grief,
         in Japanese. Let women
do what they need.
         And afterwards knit a red cap, pray—

In long rows, stone children in bibs and hats, the smell of pine and cooled
         earth—

It was a