Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2017  Vol. 16 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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When I found the tick,
I forgot the rules I’d read:
with thumb and forefinger I severed its body from mine—
just wanting it out of me,
as I’ve heard people say of babies and cancers.
I felt a mix of tenderness and disgust
for it then, like the twin
streams of blood and water
rinsing down the drain.

That summer I used English only
to write poems and speak with my lover,
yet the French insisted on speaking English to me:
You visit forêt? asked the pharmacist
in charge of medical emergencies like mine.
I heard f-o-r-a-y. Foray in a forêt.
Non, I said, jamais.

Not far from there, pears grow
in bottles suspended from the trees
to make a potent digestif.
As long as the fruit remains submerged
in the liqueur, the pear keeps whole indefinitely.

When my mother locked me out—
I was two, and three . . . —
I’d go to our willow tree,
wrap myself in its whips,
stroke its many sharp eyebrows with my hands.
The pharmacist asked me to
remove my tights to see where
the tick had lodged,
not far from my crotch. Exposed
like that, I thought I should feel more
embarrassed than I did.

I used to believe
I had been preserved by something.
Now I think I am
the preserving spirit—with my leafy fragrance, sound of wings
in the canopy, blood
draining swiftly from the head
as I look up, neither host nor guest. Exile
speaking for one reason only,
and the reason is love.  

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