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Manoa 14.2 (2002-2003) 182

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A Dark Balance

Naomi Long


for Mary

when we were born
tiger and snake
crouched in our blood

feral, amber-eyed

others never knew
from our disguise,
the disobedience

of a boneyard silence

osprey carcasses
reptilian spines
mammoth tusks

father's ruby trenches
where his mind left him

night after night
a rack of splintered faces
yankee, gook

and mother's southern moon
under the roof

we bid our time—
the snowy ascents,
the mountain ranges

the long distance sight
to ten years ahead

when we'd
turn our skins inside out
and forsake each other

tiger to the forest
snake to the sea




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p. 182
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