Strange Symbol

Rob Shapiro

Think of the farrier             standing in the yard            how he used to thumb             his silver tools                      in morning's gleam                the donkeymy mother inherited         when she remarried            led to him             on a rope                                 familiar sound                          of animal huffdark eyes                                  strained against                     August light             this was years ago               I did as I was told                     I took holdof her ears                                and twisted until                   she couldn't move             the farrier gathered           her hooves                                   one at a timeand tucked them back       between his legs                    to scrape away              whatever earth                    calcified in spring                    and clung to her bodyjust as light                              clings to dust                            and though I was afraid              of my own cruelty              I wrung the muscles               into dark flowerwaiting to be told                  enough                                        the farrier rising               to light a cigarette             or dab his face                            the animal boltinginto another pasture            as she never did                      at the end of day               when we waited                  by her fence                                 to feed her applespalms flat                                    against her muzzle                crooked teeth              worked into skin                  strange symbol                          we used to sayof love                                            god-heavy                                   grown small     knee-deep in summer           which was coming to a close             and furious as ever

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Rob Shapiro received an MFA at the University of Virginia where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. His poetry has appeared in AGNI, New England Review, The Southern Review, and Ecotone, and has received the Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner, as well as third place in Narrative‘s 30 Below Contest. He lives in New York City.

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Vol. 42.4

Middlebury, Vermont

Middlebury College

Carolyn Kuebler

Managing Editor
Leslie Sainz

Poetry Editor
Jennifer Chang

By publishing new fiction, poetry, and nonfiction that is both challenging and inviting, New England Review encourages artistic exchange and thought-provoking innovation, providing publishing opportunities for writers at all stages in their careers. The selection of writings in each issue presents a broad spectrum of viewpoints and genres, including traditional and experimental fiction, long and short poems, translations, criticism, letters from abroad, reviews in arts and literature, and rediscoveries. New England Review exists in a place apart from mass culture, where speed and information overload are the norm. At NER, serious writing is given serious attention, from the painstaking selection process through careful editing and publication, where finally the writer’s words meet up with a curious and dedicated readership.

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