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  • Outside the Refugium
  • Keetje Kuipers (bio)

The myths and folklore of traditional people the world over are replete with descriptions . . . of refugia, the inviolable strongholds of animals and plants of which the storyteller and her people steer clear . . . missing only the human, and holding out the promise of a less tumultuous future.

—Barry Lopez, Home Ground

The sparrow is an opened book, an angel

parted down the breast, head turned to the sideso one black eye can search the stippled sky

in ecstasy as the magpie straddles and works

the body over with famished care. I sitbeneath the silver olive and watch, rub

a single fruit between my thumb and forefinger

until it slips its furred skin, until the dark pitrolls there. No pool of blood, just her shit-stuck feathers

and a cloud of aspen leaves painted with drought’s

dusty watercolor scar. When he finds the heart,the magpie tucks it down his throat, a jewel

hidden in haste before the border’s crossing.

Yes, the world has always been this fragile,he says as he lifts her by the ribcage

and carries her off to where I cannot see. [End Page 63]

Keetje Kuipers

keetje kuipers’s third collection, All Its Charms, is forthcoming in 2019. Her poems have appeared in The Pushcart Prize XL and The Best American Poetry 2016. Senior editor at Poetry Northwest and a faculty member at Hugo House, she is currently at work on a novel and a memoir.



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