Let’s forget mankind for a minute. Pretend I am your brother and we breathe
The same. How easy it was to climb through tree stumps with you.

Cut and fallen redwoods second me now. Mustard seeds and their workers do too.
I can see the human nature in you like frogs in a Finnish bath.

Aren’t we all waiting for our skins to crease?
Aren’t you still waiting to crawl?


I was looking for my trick in you—a bed, a floor, a hill. You often stood
In awe of yourself. I removed the splinters. The flinch of it lingers

As I exchange my insides for the front of the line, the train ride home.
Your hoarfrost is a gift to the redbud trees.

And I’m a hothouse in search of its cradle.
I swear I am not still searching for what I have already found in you.


Rather, I’ve shipped it off to Tucumcari with time hanging heavy on its hands.
My final steps from you are marked by the exchange of ringleaders and their lions.

Soon I’ll be cleaning clocks and searching my pockets for a widow’s mite.
As if I knew better. Repeat what you said, I’ll get it right this time.


Joanne Straley’s poems have been published in The Paris Review, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, and Red China Magazine and will be forthcoming in Cirmcumference. In addition, one of her poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2004.

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