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If Marriage Is a Duel at Ten Paces

Let's count our steps with endearments. Honey. My love.
Let's mix our gunpowder with rouge and foxglove seeds.
If marriage is a war for independence, I'll find a feather

for my cap and shoot you from your horse. Darling doubter.
If it's a hunt, salt and cure me. If it's a plague for two,
my dear, let's quarantine ourselves in the cemetery wearing

aprons and snakeskin belts. Let's disfigure each other
with praise. My beautiful. My fugitive. If monogamy is a stakeout,
sweetheart, let's spy on the beekeeper who lactates honey.

I'll pull stingers from your chest if you'll clean the blood
from under my nails. If romance is a ballad, we are its authors
and its victims and finished in four minutes. Beloved, if your

desire is the passage you underlined in Song of Solomon after
our first kiss and erased on our honeymoon, then dark am I,
yet lovely. Then you, my shepherd, my charioteer, turn and shoot.

Traci Brimhall

Copper Canyon Press

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