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Shirley Stephenson

She knows him down to the hip,
the way he accommodates

the slope of linoleum, insists
he'll never let her go. In June

she thinks she could be the girl
next door. We can get used

to anything—cocktails at ten
thousand feet, a bigger mouthful,

a smaller head. It's August when she loses
her hero. In the waiting room

they give her a tuna fish sandwich
and her brother's

gym shoes. A wave of birds
lifts black, then silver off

a graveyard pond. He leans against
the cupboard and says, I've had enough

of your crying. It's me you have
to think of. A blade opens easy

and silent as a fish. But she's grown
tired of the struggle—pesticide,

spermicide, garden plots and tombs.
By September, the Chinese

lanterns have taken over
and it's easier that way. Rustle

of flame-colored skin, a slow
strangle and scorch in the hollow.

Shirley Stephenson

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