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In the Black Forest

Even the birds, stained black by the thumb
of morning. If not love, then at least a thing

that is not love's undoing, that is not
a lung with nothing to do. When I dream

of loving another man it is only
a muscle remembering the joy

of work. Recall our middle
fingers' calluses, toughed up

from the gripping of pens. I thought mine
would keep crusting, that I'd die with a claw

like a fruit-heavy crone, open in mid-temptation—
instead there is only bone and over it

nothing to note. Not all sentences end
in a way that sounds like knowing anything.

I have this son who tumbled out
of a Boy Scouts manual, a Little Rascal

inked to pink starring in an opera
of dirt—but he's afraid

of mean faces, stepmothers and queens
green with memories of milk skin murmurs

through lace at the nape.
It's okay, I say, they'll end up alone

dancing to death in red-hot shoes.
One day it is your finger on the spindle,

the next you are cursing the bobbin,
giving it two jobs to do. Some weeks

no one says my first name, no one's
tongue flicks the last letter out.

Tell me what sounds I look like,
what your lips do upon remembering

me, how I was last century, when I was only
practicing, when I changed the locks

because I thought there were more keys to come.

Erin Adair-Hodges

Let's All Die Happy
University of Pittsburgh Press

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