blackbirdonline journalSpring 2009  Vol. 8  No. 1
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He Has Given His Face to the Waters of the Lake   

and his pear trees to the bed sheets
before frost. The whole dwarf orchard draped
in cotton. My grandfather has given shape
to the ghosts by the lake, unclaimed by kudzu, one
jutting fruit organ for each inch—each pear-fisted
heart and a heart, nipple-stemmed. It’s too racy
to watch, even in memory. My mother
has given her knuckles to the boy on the school bus—
the groper whose hand was a salamander
on her thigh’s shy hem. The boy who gave
his jaw to the shocked look of violet
the river dazzles. My aunt has given her fugitive
son his escape to a Mexican schoolhouse,
his acned face to the choleric,
yellow brick. He teaches English,
he has given the language
to the metal whirring of bikes
and a backwater. He has given his girl’s lover
a blown-off leg beside the bar, pink
kneecap to the magnolia’s flower. On my walk
through the graveyard, I have given
his slang to the dead confederates: Y’all,
come back now, come back, who never listen—
my whispers to the silence
of the pear tents’ inner weather.

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