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bear with me   it wasn’t long ago I was brainless

lazily pulling fireflies into my teeth   chewing them

into pure light   so much of me then was nothing

I could have fit into a sugar cube   my body burned

like a barnful of feathers    nothing was on fire

but fire was on everything   the wild mustard

the rotting porch chair    a box of birth records    eventually

even scorched earth goes green   though beneath it

the dead might still luxuriate in their rage  my ancestor

was a dervish saint  said to control a thick river of dark milk

under his town    his people believed

he could have spared them a drought   they ripped him to pieces

like eagles tearing apart a snake  immediately they were filled

with remorse   instead of burying him    they buried a bag

of goat bones and azalea   my hair still carries that scent

my eyes   black milk and a snake’s flicking tongue

does this confuse you   there are so many ways to be deceived

a butcher’s thumb pressed into the scale   a strange blue dress

in a bathtub  the slowly lengthening night   I apologize

I never aimed at eloquence   I told my mother I wouldn’t live

through the year   then waited for a disaster   sitting cheerfully

on cinder blocks pulled from a drained pond   tossing

peanuts to squirrels  this is not the story she tells  hers filled

with happy myths   fizzy pistons and plummy ghosts

it’s true I suppose   you grow to love the creatures you create

some of them come out with pupils swirling   others with teeth

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