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Conversion Figure


I spent a long time falling
toward your slender, tremulous face—

a long time slipping through stars
as they shattered, through sticky clouds
with no confetti in them.

I fell toward earth's stony colors
until they brightened, until I could see
the green and white stripes of party umbrellas
propped on your daisied lawn.

From above, you looked small
as an afterthought, something lightly brushed in.
Beside you, blush-pink plates
served up their pillowy cupcakes, and your rosy hems
swirled round your dark head—

I fell and fell.
I fell toward the pulse in your thighs,
toward the cool flamingo of your slip
fluttering past your knees—

Out of God's mouth I fell
like a piece of ripe fruit
toward your deepening shadow.

Girl on the lawn without sleeves, knees bare even of lotion,
time now to strip away everything
you try to think about yourself.

Put down your little dog.
Stop licking the cake from your fingers.

Before today, what darkness
did you let into your flesh? What stillness
did you cast into the soil?

Lift up your head.
Time to enter yourself.
Time to make your own sorrow.

Time to unbrighten and discard
even your slenderness.


Mary Szybist

Incarnadine
Graywolf Press


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