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Linked Lives

How did I know where I was going

beneath the shadow of your fingers?

When the sky was a coat sleeve

and all the rivers dried to paint.


I’ve heard of the ocean,

irises and ambergris,

an auger when the soil freezes,

one teaspoon of baker’s yeast.


In late December, the branches broke.

Soursop fell to the earth.

Is it in the burden of fruit

that a branch bows into a latitude?

At your feet, a shell of armor

dismembered as an archipelago.


Show me the loose thread

of your stocking in the darkened

parlor and I promise

to pull it into a pipeline

at the bottom of the big

house in LaPlace.


Oh sunrise and palm oil,

church pews and molasses

for the mosquitos that hatch

inside the rain bucket out back.

We couldn’t have guessed

how everything would turn

so familiar.


But I had gotten it wrong,

every day and every night—

that a line bends to your knowing,

as if hands only run

where the eyes tell them to.


"No", you told me,

"that’s what ships are for,

to lay down a field of sugarcane

that we might call an astrolabe."


So the wind spreads you like seeds

into the corner of the sea

at Exeter Hall. A hand

points to the sky, but you

hold steady, eyes ahead,


as if listening to the ground

explain June to winter:

It’s not that I soften,

if you can believe me.


More like a yawning mouth

and deep red curtains, the humid

sigh from somewhere,

then light.


-Madeleine LeCesne


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