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Bad Sheep


Midnight's merely blue,
but me, me, me, I'm
through
and through
sloe, cracked soot-
on-a-boot,
nicotine spat, licorice whip.
You can scratch, scratch, scratch
but I stay underskin true
to ebony, ink, crowberry, pitch;
hoist me up by my hooves
and shake till I'm shook, I'm still
chock full of coke, fuliginous
murk.
O there's swart in my soul,
coal by the bag,
cinders and slag,
scoriac grit, so please
come, comb
through my fleece with hands pallid
as snow and watch
how they grow tarry, raven,
stygian, ashed—
or, if you wish, clean me with bleach
I won't
flinch, just char
down to a core of caliginous
marrow,
pure carbon, atramentous,
utterly piceous,
shadowed, and starless,
each clumpity clump
and eclipse of my heart raptly
reburnishing
a woolgather dark.


Hailey Leithauser

Swoop
Graywolf Press


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