the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night




Patricia Brody

As Oxalis Dies

  Each leaf falls as if it were motioning "No" -- Rilke

First night, second,  I check,   don't realize
each ruby shamrock wilting-- 
Signals I keep missing.

One blossom gets squashed under my slipper
smears violet over bathroom tiles, 
by the third night, the fact dawns.

Bare lack of new. No crowning buds.
Drooped necks, purple blood.
Dawn at night.   This is Death.

The plant's called Charmed Wine
charmed,  for such a tiny time.
We were charmed , then doomed.

Whatever it was --woodland, sorrow - strangled on its vine
"and all thy purple spilled into the ground".


Disappearing Goddess

Nothing but skimpy boy-shorts on the sun-brown girl
her father's green eyes peer from her scared face
bird-beak nose, scrunched mouth, small shoulders of                   
hunch tensely forward to cover her heart from --whoever’s

just outside the picture.  One skinny arm clutches her doll Regina – --
Named by you know who --  the other arm grasps the hand
whose taut, tanned arm is the only visible part

of the goddess,  who looks like a blonde bride
to the little girl and the father  --to the whole world
maybe, as the girl follows her awkwardly out of the frame
slower than the goddess wants -- the long arm pulls, pulls ----

And I will follow the disappearing goddess
the rest of my life, she, trying to vanish
me in hot pursuit, to catch --  even her hand
hold her as long as I can
heart pounding, shoulders hunched  --   
couldn’t catch him or him,  or him
who pulled away like her,   and vanished
me in hot pursuit  --
                           and the girl pulls back, bare chest towards the camera
to look at us who look at her
and want to say something to her.



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