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Coeur d’Alene

by Sue Standing


For years he secreted shards of words,
a magpie of language. Words creased
the corners of his mouth like letters

folded and unfolded too many times.
Now, his own face is a stranger’s.
He looks at himself in the mirror and says:

“He bothers me; I want him out of my room.”
It’s as baffling as the Hitchcock story
where the murder weapon, a frozen

leg of lamb, is cooking in the oven
by the time the detective arrives.
As if the icicle driven through the brain

has melted: no weapon, no fingerprints.
Who he was has vanished into the snow.
It’s been a long time since

the unglazed light of day touched him.
All our names are lost
in his artificial wakefulness.

I wait in a nerveless way for sleep
or something better to take him farther
than we can follow, where shadows

of birds sweep over his childhood body:
body of light, body of time,
full of joy in the humming field.

 

Sue Standing teaches at Wheaton College. Her poems have been published in APR, Poetry Northwest, The Nation, and elsewhere. Last year Zephyr Press put out her chapbook Amphibious Weather. (1982)

 


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