Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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House Raising

I knew it wasn’t true, and still I woke listening
for hammers. The exhalations of metal

as the hardest wood gives. Who doesn’t want to believe
that we are building something? That the boards split

just enough to be joined? We pull our bones apart
giving birth, like an old-fashioned house-raising, forcing

the timbers shaking into air. We push through
cry and prayer, and for awhile, we’re holding

up the sky—miles of thin, blue
veins and nerves and breath itself. For awhile,

we can live inside this. The nursery bright
as burl. Her small fists opening. It can’t be

reconstructed. The girl in the magic shows
who is sawed in half and wheeled apart

was always whole. We have to measure so exactly:
the coffin’s lid, the years, the rooms

where we keep our pains. It isn’t peace
or patience. There is no trick; no nail to rejoin

us. Only the quiet where she isn’t.
The sawing and the hammers’ blows.  

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