Triptych

If I were a leaf, a thorn, a sapling bent by wind— And you do but don’t believe, when I tell you how at seventeen, I stood up in the darkened cinema (one of two in my hometown); the usher in the shabby cardigan shone his flashlight up and down the aisles, calling my name because my father had phoned the manager to ask that I be ordered home.

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If I were a knot, a burr on the surface of wood— You would not say so often, Weep then bear up; crumple then cease, endure, transmute. Transmute, as the heart of darkest wood yields coils that might still shine, after the axe— Onyx or anthracite, or something more domestic: yes, sorghum dripping from a spoon.

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If I were fairer or less coarse, less complicated than a modular plot— But I am always the immigrant, wed to a handful of exit visas. Spring is a relief after the two-plot designs of rain and summer, rain and heat. Of the parched heart, a poet once wrote: come upon me with a shower of mercy. Sometimes I think spring is kinder by far than love.

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In response to cold mountain (59).

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