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Suppose the Function Is Praise

When doctors have given their final shot
or volleys rocket insomniac dark, without thought, lift

your hands. In strobing raids, at pepper spray, with cheek
to asphalt, at fault or not, go on, lift your hands. And stand

though gravel erodes to sea, don't grovel or stop
as the chopper kicks sand, or knife unleashes shock

and flow—unaided, blood rises—so lift your hands,
given this heart's un-assisted pump, no matter the lack

of water to quench a jigsaw of dirt, the belly distended—lift
your hands at the child unplanned who you cannot nurse,

then at the curse of also-ran and lift your hands, when
the only man you'll ever love has a son with someone else.

Or a husband no longer knows the name of the one
you raised together: now, raise a glass instead.

This is occasion for champagne, for all the aspirin
a body can take, for the glint of a chemical sunset's blaze,

and licking high-fructose glaze off those same fingers, just—
lift them now in don't shoot please, in fluid go, to save my feet,

at mile sixty when gas burns clean and you've made it
past your dead-end streets, with a single album

of soul on repeat—lift your hands, at the great unknown,
the bank account's mawing O—however infinitesimal

the means become or waist will cinch—infinite—
the ways to lift our hands, to coax them overhead—

                                                   limitless, our approach.

Cate Lycurgus

The Massachusetts Review

Winter 2017

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