A Protocol for Touch (Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 7) by CONSTANCE MERRITT

By CONSTANCE MERRITT

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Additional info for A Protocol for Touch (Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 7)

Sample text

Cornelius packed up all his farming tools And joined us in Arkansas a little later. But from that day forward me and Mama lived In houses that stood side by sideduring The time we stayed in Shilo and after We moved to town, right up until the day She died. Seven years ago, Cornelius died. I've buried one of our three daughters, her Youngest daughter, and one of her grandsons. Someone braids my hair straight down my back, Coiling it tight and fixing it fast with pins Not like Mama's hands but doing as They once did for me, as mine for her.

Yes, as more and more you stayed. Nothing clean or simple about that split.  Too soon to sort it out.  Who among us can afford To speak the languageany languagerightly? As if it weren't enough to bear one heart Eternally divided in its chambers.  Between us burns a sword of fire, A rusted turnstile glinting in the sun. Page 65 Exile The air is dry in this much-promised land, And mountains whisper "this is not your home"; Still nights entice me like a knowing hand, And strangers' hands have sometimes brushed my own.

I am not you; that's you and not me. From a distance the boundaries stay clear, And fear lies coiled and sleeping in its place. IX. Up close, I look at you, give you My body without its mask of blindness, Allow you to see me, my eyes As they work at seeing you. And not because, as I have said, I loved you more, or am most good, Just well-rehearsed as vulnerable. Page 20 Motion Motion is the antithesis of faith. Knowing this, your best recourse is to forget Turn your pillow, find that cooler space, Shift from side to side to back to side.

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