the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Lorna Knowles Blake

Dark Botany

O, why did you leave the garden, friend? Tell
us. Didn't we cultivate the flowers you adore,
their common names so unlike common ground —
milk thistle, pencil flower, mother-of-thyme?

Blessed thistle, sky pencil, creeping thyme…
Double names, double selves. One day I found
a wild flower in a cold, furious bed and tore
it out. I was gone. There's nothing left to tell.



— After Lowell

Tiny enamel spiral,
designed with exquisite art,
recently abandoned —
a snail's shell in the grass
catches the light at daybreak.
Overturned, exposed, vacant,
its coiled intimacy
has the ransacked air
of a refugee's home
the day after the raid.
Naked, vulnerable
to a thousand inclemencies,
the exile seeks shelter,
if only by building itself
another small stone prison.



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