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  • from Tanka Diary
  • Harryette Mullen (bio)

It wasn't a bat. Only smudged wings of a giantmoth colliding with your face, startlingas daylight surrendered to shadows.

Dark-centered petals, purple coneflower,tall parasol for fuzzy soft lamb's earand green-silvery stalks of dusty miller.

Here we have neighborhoods where apricot,fig, and citrus trees are grown for show, where ripeto bursting fruit is left to drop and rot.

Our best beach days are steely-gray, cloudy andcool. We wear our thickest sweatersand listen to the salty crunch of boots on sand.

Looking up at the sky to estimatemy mood, as if to calculate the sumof all clouds subtracted from the total blue. [End Page 45]

Harryette Mullen

Harryette Mullen is author of several poetry collections, including Recyclopedia, winner of a PEN Beyond Margins Award; Sleeping with the Dictionary, a finalist for a National Book Award, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize; and Tanka Diary, forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2013. Her poems have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, Polish, German, Swedish, Danish, Turkish, Bulgarian, and Kyrgyz. A collection of her essays and interviews, The Cracks Between What We Are and What We Are Supposed to Be, was published in 2012 by University of Alabama Press. She teaches American poetry, African American literature, and creative writing at UCLA.



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