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by Jennifer Barber

The brown hen is blown
toward the chopping block
and the red-handled ax.

The sea is rubbed bare in spots,
the sky El Greco blue
between the forking clouds.

The only gods are seasonal:
the holding back, the giving in,
the mistimed caress

against, not with, desire.
The wind dies as abruptly
as it started yesterday.

The day’s late light
falls on us, unequally—it
makes a new map

of the blue bedspread,
luring disappointment
from our eyes and mouths,

letting us begin again.


Jennifer Barber’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Orion, The Journal, Partisan Review, Verse, and Yellow Silk. Her manuscipt Vendaval will appear in Take Three: 3, AGNI New Poets Series (Graywolf Press). She edits the journal Salamander in Brookline, MA. (1998)

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