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  • A Gift for Robert Lowell
  • Tiana Clark (bio)

It was daffodils. I pluckedfrom their stems as a kid by slittingtheir trumpet-shaped coronas,

headless and limp with pleasure.Cellular sap swelled with dew,clear as blood, sticky chloroplast.

I would like to give you a ballroombursting with these bodiless flowersfrom my childhood—yellow

as fall-drunk tree leaves, manicwith their chlorophyll breakingdown, brilliant and blasting

with your enthusiasms. I shrinkboth from mentioning and notmentioning: your mind is right.

I see myself inside your man-apingballoon, wetly holding what your handdid there, pulsing and stealing—

Last night, I slept with a hideouswhite man, rode him like a Negrobubble, sweated with a secret dank.

Have me, hold me, cherish me!Tears smut my fingers. Woe to WhitePower. Woe to one dark night

as we splayed hull to hull. Your mindis right. Your mind is right. Your mindis right is what I want to write [End Page 44]

across the gutter of your books,but you scare me—I like it like that,like the double-barreled shotgun

hidden in the late August sumac.Sometimes I don't know what I am,but I recognize myself in your trash—

inside that empty cup of sour cream.I feel awful and seen and less lonely there.It was my thumbs. I would use

my thickest fingernail to breakthe brain of the daffodil. I was gentle,loving, rapid, and merciless. [End Page 45]

Tiana Clark

TIANA CLARK is the author of Equilibrium (Bull City Press, 2016), selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Her first full-length debut collection, I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018) won the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. Clark is the winner of the 2017 Furious Flower's Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize and 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. She was recently the 2017–2018 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Best New Poets 2015, and elsewhere. Clark is the recipient of scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Sewanee Writers' Conference, and Frost Place Poetry Seminar. She teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.



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pp. 44-45
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