“and even you forgot those brilliant flashes seen from afar” -Ruth Stone

CARTOGRAPHY

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For example the tearing
of a rose, scent trailing you down
the block, you swearing petals
can change history. For example the point
when you, pressing the white on tissue,
fold the walk into some book’s pages, mark
the course deep in limbic chambers.
Or given dune grass you roam
sea prairies where salt slackens to sand
or chase cave and swamp,
or drive west to mesa and butte.
Given snow pastures, topaz, scrub oak,
downtown, you shove sentences into pockets
until years pass, you open the book
for a word, and the rose, dried
to ochre, the paper crackled
and stained like old blood sails out
from temporal lobe
along ventricle and medulla, over the Sylvian
fissure like lightning on water, like murmurings
of early language, through pia mater
and dura mater, tender, harsh, exploding.

THE DAY I DISPOSE OF MY FATHER

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I bike around Edgartown
his ashes in my mouth
bone powder lingering
bitter my hand.
The weight of fog
hangs like laundry.
Then the shingled houses
an aftertaste of his disappointment.
At night the phosphorescent
creatures swim past eel grass.
My fingers borrow their light.

YARD WORK

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Yanking tree roots like brain nets, I pull
hard across the turf, looking for a mainspring.

This is how the morning goes: so many root
systems I struggle sorting them out.

Charred debris and wood chips hide
pieces of molten glass discarded in old dirt.

Cultivating grass takes three years, the nursery
guy says, but he prefers wildflowers.

Hawks dive. Geese trumpet. Now it’s quiet.
I see the splitting, say, Maybe there’s time.

Earthworms are churning garden soil;
the season’s cultivation will wear fine loam.

In the noon garden, I scoop dirt, drink
dirt, taste its minty humus.

Emerson dreamed he ate the world.
I compose soil as offertory fare.

That man whose name means love
brought sweet brown peat.

The fiddleheads are covered with leaves.
I peel back thatch to expose the fronds.

Maidenhair flourishes on rocks and old walls
near the sea. Borders crack when spores disperse.

The day besieges me, leaves me night
to hunt the bogs for lichen.

Tonight I plant full moon sugar snaps,
lie down in furrows, join the old mothers.

Shall I set fire to my life, unearth the path,
destroy the children, the husband, the house?

I want to wear the sky like Lalla, but wonder
how to slip in and out of this old coat.

Perhaps it is the raking, the running
of my hands through dirt, the sifting.

The dead rise in gusts that sear
fields, race across years.

Alone and at work, they stand
with me, mute figures.

BRAIN SONNET #13

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Love was a cannon
hard on impact
so hurt held on.
My family tried or not.
Recently I dream
they come knocking
at my front door.
They frame the wind
carry my body.
Such sadness in our skins
our muted neurons
their brain my brain
lost again
revising the same old story.

Appears in this issue
PAMELA HART is author of the award-winning collection, MOTHERS OVER NANGARHAR, published in 2019 by Sarabande Books.

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