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(When I Heard the Song of the Angels)

Nicole Mauro

I had been in my office, with the door ajar. Both my stink eye and my warm
smile hurt. From my backyard I could tell the potato-makers were making
smell-less Vodka way out, way out in the outskirts. Maybe it’s all the aiming
I do from afar—at the Putin-y wolves, the stars. Maybe it’s Exxon crude on a
duck wing.

Here’s what I know:

Pain has an element of blank, it is snow.

Frozen, frozen,
water to
a liquid-whole. It is
like loyalty. You may rely on it like a blast
of healthy sunshine
until you can’t
that’s the way it goes.

Many homesick captains, their drunken spillages.

Many rural women, untoothed by the men sock-eyeing them in villages.
How many teeth? Dunno. I know I subtracted until my fingers dropped,

Always, is it alpenglow in my ear. As explanation, it makes my eyes cross,
just as the Song of the Angels sometimes makes me feel homely and severe.

It’s all the aiming I do—duck, wolf, Russian, my brother-in-law, the former

…pain has an element of blank—what comes before? Recognition? That’s a
liquid whole, a, in our Kitchen-Table vernacular, half-baked potato.
Whatever name, it is written after pain, and one writes after pain in
blankness: “Wife-beater,” “Drug Addict,” “Oil- spill,” “Abortion.” The thing
is the thing that causes it, and the thing about the thing that causes it is the
thing that is always unknown before it. I don’t know what it is exactly, what
to call it. I know I can’t shoot at it. I know it is not water.

Nicole Mauro

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