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by Larissa Szporluk

The ox is slow but the earth is patient.
The ox is in a war
of many tiers but no engagement,
like folds within a bellows
that broke from the accordion
(war to be alone in a shiftless wind
that does not answer,
war to be the only
child in existence, even frozen,
be the only sound that plows the only land,
and as the only one,
be dumb to all remembrance
of how small or strong or round
it ever was, how much work there is
undone, how long it’s been
since any form of water has come down,
all thought about the whip,
how sharp it is against the moving bone,
all gone).
The earth is patient in this war,
knowing binds and chains
enflame the skin, and skin, like soft terrain,
loosens into freedom for the thorn,
and the thorn, squeezing from the tissue
like a devil or a leech,
bleeds into an almost touching song.


Larissa Szporluk has been published in Poet Lore, Poem, Passages North, Berkeley Poetry Review, and many other journals. (1993)

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