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Tanka as Ark
Kaethe Schwehn (bio)


Tongue lolling,
the llama lounges in her thigh.
She repeats words the llama likes:
rickshaw, Sudan, task, muskwort, llama.

Where her wrist veins cross
a dove’s eye opens.

A sherry-dipped slug at every joint, hawk
feathers in her blisters, snake spine chinned, kiss
of rooster in her cough, rodent body
rippling through jaw.

Seahorses curl at her temples.

Squinting through a seaweed ruckus, the otters
in her calves, sleek in motion, quicken toward
the bullfrogs in her thighs,
hiccupped throats turned inward.

        Sometimes she breaks leaves in the gutter
        until the menagerie is quiet.
        Until the distance thickens.

The Mourning Cloak is a butterfly
inside her heart and it is dead.
    Its scales shine.
    One antennae doubled over by the wind.
    White sunk along the lower wing.
The other animals do not bother it.
To have a dead thing in the heart is sacred.

Come, let’s have the tongs and bones.

The sun is the mouth of a jar
and inside the jar is a lion.

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