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  • Dear—, and: Dear—, and: Continental Drift Theory
  • Donika Kelly (bio)


We come from abundance, each seasonbowed with rain. But here is the earth,eager to flame, the air like salt, thirstyeven for the water we carryin our skin. New wanderers in this land,we do not know how to wait for water,have never waited so long for rainthat every tree died, left to stand tinder.

For now, I watch the shoulder burn,drive through the smoke that blots the mountains,and holds the old yolk of sun. I know nothingof fire, its reach, its spread, know onlythat every body makes its own ash,manages its own diminishing. [End Page 381]


I take the first snowfall for ash. Mistake,I mean, the first flake that comes wispingdown for the remnant of some thing burned,perhaps, for warmth or in error. When we wereyoung, we stood with our backs not to the pastor future but toward the hot desperationof being alive and for right now.At the canyon's edge, the wind, thick as a hand,readied to push you into gorge and riverrock. Come back, I said. And the wind tookmy voice too. Love, there is no fire here—only water, finally, driftingto coat the grass, to keep it green, to heapthe limbs and needles in wet, heavy white. [End Page 382]

Continental Drift Theory

For two nights we sleptas two people who were oncein love: our bodies

settled into one another,our skin quiet. No quickening,only habit, and sleep hard come.

Our first farewell, saidwithout knowing, drownedby our delight, shared and singular,

in what surrounded us:the otter smashing some mealagainst the pilings;

the little red crabssweeping backwardunder the boardwalk;

the line of pelicanscutting low above the harbor.That April afternoon,

the light bending longacross the water, did I not think,my love, there at the moment [End Page 383]

the ending began like a rockslipped into the bay?I'd wanted to fix in my mind

your face, wanted to fix,at the coast, the slow driftthat separated us.

Difficult now to imagine—the gesture weak,the occasion quite late. [End Page 384]

Donika Kelly

Donika Kelly is the author of the chapbook Aviarium and the full-length collections The Renunciations (forthcoming) and Bestiary, the winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry, and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and member of the collective Poets at the End of the World.



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pp. 381-384
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