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POEMS

Homelands

By Louise Nayer

Mother,

this is not what you dreamt for me.

I am scared of this route

into the heart.

I walk on the ice

barefoot,

listen to water burn my feet

cold as your stoic throat

that tightens before you sigh.

I was November in your body,

Do you see how my leaves change color?

I am scared of the scars

on your face and hands.

They are real below the eyes.

You blush them away in a field of poppies.

Do you know that I still say

the Lord's Prayer at night --

It is faithful, this prayer.

The sheep run too quickly.

I cannot count them.

They will not unseal my lips.

How can I tell you

I am afraid,

that the bronze girl

playing tennis in the New Hampshire woods

is scared of the tall pines,

that the wind is a knife.

I crash into trees with the speed of a sinner

and tempt the raw bark.

This darkness is also my home.

My skin is light,

my eyes are dark ravens.

Mother, I revolve in these woods,

this delicate Chinese lithograph

and dream of the conventional,

the uninterrupted.

And someday I will see you cry.

The water will flow from your eyes

and you will see

me, your daughter.

I will not drown.

You can collapse on me.