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The light just misses you entering the room.
It falls in the corner where nothing lives.
If it landed on your slender, stooped shoulder,
your long neck, warmed your dark hair,
your quiet face, you would cringe and the pupils
would shrink like a scream and draw you
back to the firecoals of the cave, the stale air
you breathe, the wet bread shoes of the forest. The world
just outside, its dazzling squawks of birds
upon birds: Let them come to you as echoes, as whispers,
the vocalizing of meek and clenched creatures
you have never seen, the flat-faced owl with whom,
for an instant, you merge. With inexhaustible fingers,
thrifty and nimble, slip the thread through the primitive
needle and piece together your fabric. If they come,
it is only to collect your goods and to give you
something small in return, a loaf, a beeswax candle,
perhaps, to delight you. You can see in the dark
by the pinprick in your eye. It is the point where
all thought dissolves, the purifying corridor of enigmatic
links. Light its wick in the night and see what ignites.
If you were to speak, might it not kill you?
Emily Fragos is the author of Little Savage (Grove/Atlantic, 2004) and Hostage: New & Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Yale Review, and numerous other journals. She is the recipient of a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, and a 2014 American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award Winner.
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