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by Edward Kleinschmidt

I have washed that smile off my face,
Sitting here, in the hot bleachers of
The Valencia arena, where matadors kill
Bulls. Can I spin into myself deeply
Enough? What of the drills on the used
Parts of speech, the past tense to describe
The tense passing minute of a red cape
Flashing over white shrieks of horns?
I can imagine the seamstress, who earlier
Twirled bolts of whole cloth, sewed what was
Once nothing into something hemmed in
By thread. Like the guitarist, plucking the cat
Gut, a string of pink intestine that holds
The sound of the body cavity. I have
Always believed in the face of things,
Facets that rub off, attach themselves
To memory, become sponsors to seeing
Things that weren’t there only a minute
Ago. The matador takes home with him
The face of the bull he’s killed, can
See the imprint when he holds the cape
To the mirror: what he sees he sees,
His own face and mine, the darker spectrum,
Knowing he should have known the truth
At the tips of the bull’s horns:
The only thing left for himself was life.


Edward Kleinschmidt’s second book of poems, First Language, received the 1989 Juniper Prize. (1993)

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