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Do As I Say

not as my poetry professor once insisted,

authority jutting from elbow patches

n corduroy: if anyone reads you Cummings'

mewhere i have never travelled,

gladly beyond, you must marry that person,

young or old, male or female, no delay.

I balled the advice into my shirtsleeve,

A half-used Kleenex, wondered how long

I should wait to learn that passion isn't

driving two moonlit hours to convince

a young lover to take me back for a night.

I deserve more than safety, it's nothing like

a man smoothing down your hair with two hands

to kiss you clean into another life, nameless,

without heart or conscience, only skin and breath

and the warm blur of pupils swelling from

the danger of falling into your reaches,

tiny hands erasing your backstory, emptiness.

Let them -- don't hesitate as I did.


That M.C. Escher Drawing

It's called "Relativity" -- not the image

f the hand drawing the hand drawing.

Staircases in all four directions, coupled

with gray, thatched landings and doorways.

This is a man's mind. He watches you climb

a ladder, holds out a candle to light the path,

throws down a rope even, and when your feet

touch ground, breathing begins to slow,

a door quietly clicks in your face.

A creature of optimism, you ask:

If he didn't slam the door, is it an invitation

to pursue? Descend, look for another way in,

come to the door where the man becomes

a pronoun. It's me, he says on voicemail,

confident in your automatic reply. In the center

of the scene, there is only the climber

with heart and purse slung over the shoulder.

Creature of expectation, you call back

right away, lead with the full name

your mother used to yell from the bottom of the stairs.

Contributor's Note: Jennifer's Campbell's debut collection "Driving Straight Through" was published last month by Foothills Publishing. She is an English professor at Erie Community College North and co-editor of Earth's Daughters magazine.

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