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Slate

by Nance Van Winckel


My too-sharp lefts kept making the bundle in back
sluice right. I was driving with the dead Nance
in the truck bed. The gas gauge didn’t work
so there was an added worry of running
out of juice. Her word. Her word one
windy evening with the carpets
stripped from a floor, which
surprised us as stone—slate
from the quarry we were
headed to now, but Let’s first have us
some juice, she’d said then, barefoot on bare slate.

The truck-bedded Nance, wrapped in her winding sheet,
thuds left, clunks right. I’m sorry about my driving,
sorry about the million lovely pine moths mottled
on my windshield. Thank God, here’s the quarry,
and there’s the high ledge, where, as a girl long
ago, she’d stepped bravely from the white
towel and stared down. Then she’d held her nose
and leapt out into it—this same cool and radiant air.

 

Nance Van Winckel’s fourth book of poetry, Beside Ourselves, is just out with Miami University Press. She has also published three collections of short stories and has received two NEA Poetry Fellowships. She teaches in the graduate creative writing programs at Vermont College and Eastern Washington University. (5/03)


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