Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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A clothesline suspended between two trees
seemed an apt metaphor for identity
back when the clothes nicked by a gale

stood for odd, forgotten moments,
memorable only when they blew away.
That was a few missing socks ago—

before the line let slip away
moments when the body was porous,
when I was warm skin and milk for another

when the wind snatched from my father’s mind
who he is and who we used to be.
That was before a virus turned us

into warm and gracious hosts.
The line curled around our sweet gum tree,
making the tree seem central to our lives

when it was not. I need a new
clothesline or sturdier imaginary
clothespins or a new metaphor—

one that holds our whole sievelike bodies
and the fictions we keep trying to contain.
I need an image for what we are

when the body abandons the ego.
An archipelago? See that lovely chain
of islands resembling the points

on a connect-the-dots activity for a child.
The eye can join the islands or see
scattered masses of land that a tiny hand

has not been drawn to—
has not picked up a crayon
to make a through-line through them.

Just let the little islands be.  

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