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Present
Leslie Williams (bio)

How could she refuse it
on the very verge of spring

when in another hour fury, grief
might ease off enough, allow

quick passage through, climbing down
in say, a cactus garden, angling into light

around adobes where she could
have rented them a room— but

the lost are like this: foster mothers, night
nurses for the lives of others, not their own—

she tore her page out, like the woman who
jumped from the Mayflower before her party

went ashore— the white oak soaked and
fallen, failed in the same place I now look

She gave her son a wonderful childhood,
as he wrote himself on the last page

of the sympathy book How can we know
the number who have loved us, or how

few—you shall not kill applies
also to the self, though everywhere I meet

discouragements to an inquiring further,
drowsing deep in brief explosive red-flesh

woodlet days—you shall not kill the apples
up from the ground and tasting so good.

 

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