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Lignum Vitae

        —Galleria  Borghese


Caught mid-stride, taproots, tendrils shooting down
from tripped toes like a mangrove straining
an estuary, no part of Daphne
touches ground,

the downfall of her right foot loosening
its ferocious calf-climbing bouquet of shade,
her midriff trailing a bonsai glade
which entails her pursuer, pierces his groin ...

As sudden as a gust pales the poplar
against encroaching sky, so he palms her waist,
a look of bewilderment entering his face
as his fingers find not skin but scar.

From the blind side they've fled into abstraction,
gone into the grove of themselves
to hang on as vortices, selva
oscura
, a gnarled old thick-boughed oak ingrown

with worry, age-blunted rage, the tree of life resealed.
Spun out of windblown cape and cross-purposes—
the girl she was, the man he couldn't be
a simple stone, a garnish of leaf at his heel.


Kevin Craft

Vagrants & Accidentals
University of Washington Press


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