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Ars Poetica

"Peace," says the soprano,
retired to the sea, "is this tide
licking the stilts of my house."
Her toe strokes the rug,
she flicks an ash, goes early
to bed with a glass of gin.

In her closet, a red cloak
keeps Aida's sweat from 1963.
Mornings, she strolls the winter
beach, white hair touching
scarlet shoulders. O terra, addio.

The Chinese masseuse leans
her palms on a sill above
Main Street, hears the howl
of the Burlington Northern
Santa Fe. Grandmother bent
to pick rice in Yunan Province.
What are these empty streets,
fields of alien corn?

She starts the tape of reed-
flute melodies, attends the next
body's tides, same West
or East, home or away, thin
or fat with strange food.
Always currents to listen to.

The girl kept goldfish in a bowl,
a snail to clean their leavings.
When the bright fish died,
she watched him climb the glass,
feelers quaking. He pursued
the algae, blazing a trail, his
toothed tongue scraping.

The panes turned opaque.
Sometimes a ray pierced his
mossy domain. Did he feel
her presence when she tapped?

Natania Rosenfeld

The Gettysburg Review

Spring 2013

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