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by Annie Boutelle

Once stripped, there’s no
going back. The hanging
man can’t be unbroken,

undone from the gallows,
wounds bathed in wine
and tended. Nail can’t

be pulled, nor thorn. He
hides power, no seam
to unravel, no cloak

to unpin. He’s almost
composed in his skin,
arms stretched to touch

each one who inches
to the edge of what
is and falls in air.


Annie Boutelle, born and raised in Scotland, is the author of Thistle and Rose: A Study of Hugh MacDiarmid’s Poetry. Founder of the Poetry Center at Smith College, she teaches in the English Department there. She has published poems in various journals, including The Georgia Review, The Hudson Review, and Poetry. Her first book of poems is Becoming Bone: Poems on the Life of Celia Thaxter. Her second, Nest of Thistles, won the 2005 Samuel French Morse Prize from Northeastern University Press. (3/2006)

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