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  • Vow of Extinction, and: Resin
  • Mary Ruefle (bio)

Vow of Extinction

From this day forward all plantsexcept the lemon treewill be banished from my poems

From this day forward I am wedded to the sky

All clouds shall be banishedand my memory of them vanishlike memory itself

Not even a lime shall sneak in

Animals shall exit my poemsincluding those that cross the skyin herds or as stragglers

Without plants, without animalspeople cannot survive in my poemsso they too shall be sent,those with shoes and those withoutin a long line leaving

Leaving myself under the lemon treewedded to the skythat is light then dark then light

Candles are forbidden

I will feel the terrible weight of twilightas it falls over the land like a despondent minx,words I might formerly have used for a squirrel [End Page 3]

From this cretinous propositionI shall write my poemsand try to reach thosewho no longer exist

They are not in this poem or any other

From this day forwardI eat lemons in my park

Their complete similarity to mecan now be distinguished

To speak of my promise,my offering to the sky,puts a sprig in my mouth

Would this not then be my entry into society?


I am going to die.No such thought has ever occurred to mesince the beginning of my exclusive timein air, when God, having made my mind,first began to wrap it, slowly and continuously,in strips of linen soaked in a special admixtureof rosewater, chicken fat, and pineconesstudded with cloves to stop them from dripping.Nor is it likely I would ever have had such a thoughtin the time required by Him to finish the job,if someone else had not first introduced the thoughtinto the process, thereby interrupting it,however briefly. But who? [End Page 4]

Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle is an American poet, essayist, and professor. She has published eleven collections of poetry, most recently, My Private Property.



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