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Notes from the Forest

by Malinda Markham

Cut an animal tongue to turn
the body to gold. Figure burst whole from fruit,
then bent back in. The skin
is fresh, the bruise but a moment
and fine. The man, his hand sunk in the sea,
anchors nothing. One woman at another,
small blade at her eye. These are the stories
we do not want to tell. To swell (a mother),
to retract into fugitive sleep.
Embed a word in a single rib & live
eighty years longer than the rest. Tie cloth
around the eyes. A body swathed in blue
will be safe, the eyes turn up on cue.
What is severed, what kneeling,
what waiting just past the gate.
Unveil the mannequin's legs in glee. This is not
a feast and at least one lack cannot
be avenged. Fallen persimmons
quiet the eyes. What climbs, what steals,
what severs in threes. One opening
breaks into the next. This is only a mouth.
I'm sure you know the rest. To break,
to liquefy, to drink the answer down.
I for one have given. "Send the butcher back
when he arrives at the gate." A paper
bird can only melt in the rain. Its rider
stares death in the mouth and can't speak.
A figure of light, a lie, a woman so pure
children only believe. To sow, to steep,
to follow unthinking. Animal love a tree too much.
Be killed by what it has planted.

From Having Cut the Sparrow's Heart by Melinda Markham. Copyright © 2010 by Melinda Markham. Used by permission of New Issues Press. All rights reserved.
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