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Adele Ne Jame Adele Ne Jame is the author of two poetry books, Inheritance and Field Work, which was described as “the work of a truly original voice: a one-ofa -kind wonder.” Her Arab heritage, and her adult life lived in French Polynesia and the islands of the South Seas, give her poetry “its rich ambiance and evocative landscape.” Her poems have appeared in such journals as Ploughshares and the Denver Quarterly, and she is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a former poetin -residence at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Born in New Jersey, Ne Jame has lived since 1969 in Hawaii, where she teaches creative writing at Hawaii Pacific University. Fieldwork, Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin This far north even an early spring seems insufficient, though starlings congregate overhead in the branches and the trees are beginning their work, though geese, beautiful in their loud honking, fly in patterns, synchronized, unpredictable, some wild announcement you think must have something to do with mending or perhaps forgetting that the urgent wind, like death, dismantles everything, that even its vibrato which resonates long in the body is evidence of a diminishing presence, that love fails. Yet, I am willing, though arrival seems more like progressive loss, to attend to this work of belief, even as a small 247 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 247 creature in the distance breathes evenly, beautifully in a field of dying fire trees finding bloodroot, its single pale flower, willing to say after a long, unforgiving winter that the sunlight blanching the lake, after an overnight thaw its current rushing with the wind’s force, is not just a matter of physics or a metaphor gone wrong like love’s hard turn back, that in this now perfect light, the bluffs that circle the lake are the color of rose quartz, that this wall of flesh, in its own time, is equal to the harsh grace of this landscape, and that the loud clattering of birds starting up again is no accident. 248 Adele Ne Jame 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 248 Annabelle’s From Bakersfield, he says, all red in the face, sloshed, a football coach pushing that beer gut around like it was the prettiest part of his body. But the lights are twirling round and round making everything romantic, and he thinks she’s terrific. He takes the drink out of her hand, cinches her waist with his heavy arm and they’re gliding across the dance floor, that two-ton Galento moving so smooth, and he’s talking and twirling her around and through the crowd just like he owns that floor. And she’s trying to keep up because he likes her and people are looking and she likes it once she gets used to it. He lets her go some, then pulls her in real close for more turns. But he keeps on talking and confusing her. She’s thinking about the small of her back where his hand is pressing so she can follow, and she’s not interested in talking at all. But he is. So he slows down real slow leans back to look at her— God, you’re a beauty, he says. Men kill themselves for a woman like you, Adele Ne Jame 249 2CHARARA_pages_165-334.qxd:Layout 1 11/14/08 2:39 PM Page 249 they do. Every day. Bust their asses so they can give a woman like you everything you could want. You know? And he’s messing it all up, she thinks, sounding less drunk—everything, he says. God, look at you. Men go nuts over a woman like you. Work themselves into the fucking ground, work their asses off to give you everything, you know. And he leans back again looking and says, You know? I know it by heart, she says. And he stops, his arms gently holding her there— What’s that mean, he says. Nothing, she says. What’d you mean, tell me, he says. I’ve been married, she says. And he pulls her in real close again like the whole world was his body. You’re such a pretty one, he says, twirling her around and around. I’d marry you tonight, I would. I’d work my ass off for you. God, look at you. I’d give you everything, everything you...


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