Size / / /

I read her bones like oracles

scour random records

newspapers    old books

looking for

fingerprints    her trail

living in time:

light with characters

trying to make a personal link

the children thought she was a witch

any hint of her passions

could tell me    what life is

who else have I to learn from

who else could tell me

how to live

touring the self:

I have no answers

I come here under the barrow

laughing deadly earnest

I ask myself how I am

knowing there is no state in this world

known as happy

why do I insist she must

have been happy

knowing the girl:

the words sing in the brain

we know her by blood

my head full of stories

I've lived thinking

waste not    want not

this is the only life

such a burden    so I'd better live it well

feeding the darkness:

the leaping thing that sputters obscenities

useful wives

glory gone to mud

if those that love you tortured you

how should I then live

if you bullied yourself

if you coasted    insulated

and thoughtless


loving the outlaw:

getting used to harm, a pure

and violent hatred of the lies we live by

words do not smuggle cheaply

I live    at the usual speed

dying    not any faster than average

as far as I know    tooth and nails

hanging onto this life

creating it    searching for her

living the hard life:

nearly crazy with sorrow

she wonders who will have her

it is herself she guards

Red rover red rover    I wonder

what I am surrendering to

I call her over

learning the powers:

cruel mother

she knows our face

a home for my imagination


holding them close

There's life in this:

I write her down

out of these fragments    I build her

out of these scraps    I construct myself

Neile Graham's life is full of writing and writers. She is a graduate of Clarion West Writers Workshop and currently serves as their workshop director. Her poetry collections are Seven Robins, Spells for Clear Vision, and Blood Memory, and a spoken word CD, She Says: Poems Selected and New.
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