Cover Art

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Frontmatter

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Acknowledgments

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p. vii

For their generous support of me and my work, I wish to thank Jay C. and Ruth Halls and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Rosenberg family, and all those at the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund, George Mason University’s creative writing program, the University of Utah’s creative writing program, ...

CONTENTS

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pp. ix-x

One

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p. 1

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INTERROGATION

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pp. 3-4

How did you get here in the wet garden on your bloody knees, and where is your mother’s brown dress smelling of nickels and butter? Why is your father yelling from his bedroom window, and what of the gun? Why can’t you untangle your ankles from the cucumber vines? How does it feel to press your small, hot cheek ...

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FOR MY SISTER IN THE RIVER

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p. 5

I was trying to be cruel when I threw the rhododendrons in her hair. It was spring and the petals were sticky, bruised and crimson against her dark hair, but instead of crying she laughed, spun herself into this photograph of a girl dancing in circles so fast her body blurs, her head a deep magenta and earth. ...

FIG

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p. 6

CORRIDA DE TOROS

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pp. 7-8

IN A PAST LIFE, YOU WERE JOAN OF ARC

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pp. 9-10

HOW TO PRAY

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pp. 11-12

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ALLEGORY OF SMOKE AND MUSIC

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p. 13

He was a pianist, aging, no one famous. When there was still music, he played with famous people. He had long smokes with them between sets on days when the light yellowed a little, turned the smoke into veils. Now he taught. Between students, he smoked. After her lesson, one pale girl always followed him outside, ...

SPEAK X

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p. 14

WRITTEN IN SKIN

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pp. 15-16

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APOLOGIA

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pp. 17-18

They were on a train, in a tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan, when he said he felt quiet. She asked what quiet felt like and he said small. She knew more about him then, thought of how small he looked the night she told him she was sorry about their baby. The attic’s slant made everything smaller as she lay ...

I WANT YOU DANGEROUSLY

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p. 19

ASUNDER

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pp. 20-21

SUMMER WASPS

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p. 22

TRUCE

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p. 23

FIRST WIFE

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pp. 24-25

ANTARCTICA—

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pp. 26-27

WHEN PANDORA OPENED HER BOX, SHE FOUND

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p. 28

Two

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p. 29

PASTORAL

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p. 31

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LOST LETTER I

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p. 32

I can see you here, your letter says, weeks before it arrives. You are as timid as an unsliced papaya beneath the soaked awning, rain barely not wetting your thin, green shirt. You could be any one of these women walking past—each with a dark umbrella over her face. You, where the rain isn’t. I turn to answer, ...

LEMON

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p. 33

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LOST LETTER II

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p. 34

We could rendezvous like children in a place we build ourselves, make a roof from branches, bittersweet and eyebright, choose whose body will be the structural beams, whose body will be the windows, doors. If we are the house, who will live in us? No time for rational thoughts, my Skeleton Key, just hold me ...

PAPAYA

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pp. 35-36

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LOST LETTER III

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p. 37

You no longer remember my voice, so I call on New Year’s Day. La Loteria is stacked red on your end table, beneath the unlit lamp. Sharp light from the window reaches into your eyes as you lift the receiver. You are surprised to hear my voice out of nowhere. If you flipped the top card over, you would find an umbrella, ...

POMEGRANATE

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pp. 38-39

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LOST LETTER IV

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p. 40

The lake in the landscape of our past was all fog—we walked along it, our faces obscured, our conversation cold-pressed, virgin olives. I am a patient man you stated, and a buoy lit out in the Arabian Sea. Listen, I couldn’t hear you. Anything I say about that afternoon, I have to imagine—my tongue was underground, ...

TOMATO

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pp. 41-42

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LOST LETTER V

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p. 43

It’s too late. Voices rising through the vents awoke us from the dream we were having of each other. I am a child and you snap off an aloe leaf to soothe the scrape on my knee. You are also a child and hide under the table but can’t articulate why. I want to give you a reason, or a quiver of feathers or an apple, ...

PLUM

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pp. 44-45

OVERRIPE

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p. 46

HEARTH

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pp. 47-48

Three

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p. 49

LOVELY

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pp. 51-52

APOLOGIA PRO VITA SUA

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pp. 53-54

LOTUS EATER’S WIFE

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pp. 55-56

CIVILIAN SONNET

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p. 57

MORRO DE S

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pp. 58-62

THE DIVINERS

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p. 63

SANGRIA

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pp. 64-65

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ALLEGORY OF THE WINTER DOE

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p. 66

A young man, walking alone at night because his car broke down, came across a doe frozen along the highway. Snow fell lightly on her pelt, her opened eye. Black blood iced a small space in the ditch. He crouched down to touch her neck. He had tasted venison the summer before, at a dinner where the woman ...

STEIN IN LOVE WITH PICASSO

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pp. 67-68

NOTES ON THE PASSION FLOWER

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p. 69

IN A PAST LIFE, YOU WERE JUDAS ISCARIOT

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pp. 70-71

PRODIGAL DAUGHTER

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pp. 72-73

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FOR YOU

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pp. 74-75

I once read a poem that compared a pomegranate to a heart. And there were sparrows darting in and out of the lines, violets throwing off the moonlight like an old coat, and a student raising her hand to say I don’t get it. Someone loved someone else, though someone else didn’t love someone back, or someone else did ...

NOTES

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p. 77

Back Cover

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