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Elizabeth Sanger

The Needle

Would you were where my sister keeps her bones,
deep in her body, perfecting

their whiteness. I know teeth
troubling flesh, nubbin

chewed from the nail. Tasting salt
and alloy. Before we were sisters

lovers in the clipped field
whirled tarantella, courted

hillocks and the electric
fence without consequence,

swam in the abandoned
calcite quarry, its rain 

dead of frogs and fish. 

The Needle

The road pulls like a half-sleep
protracted. An evening, further

evening unrolls
the overlong length of the road.

In a corridor of rain-thicked trees
smothered idylls are rising.

White wine whispers
through the shifting leaves,

a gilded currency flitted with breathing
An understatement

of breathing. The kick comes
embryonic inside me.

The Needle

In the clearing, the scrub pine’s shadow 
recedes, permitting light 

its butchery. Wildflowers curl into themselves 
with mechanized intellect.  This is not wilderness

between us, just a predictable distance
overdressed, every occasional tendril, dusk-rushed grove

bearing deliberate resemblance
to the accident we made 

writhing in the net of creepers. 
There are no accidents. Even the animals--

especially the animals, their choired gaze 
so reliably exultant. Nowhere to withdraw

in a smothering underbrush—nowhere
in an assumption commonwealth

in which to find togetherness
is not the way I like it. Consider: we share a literal tongue.

Self-Portrait in Spring

Moony, jasmine dehisces
a pliant seed. Faces

of the beautiful boys and girls,
rooting toward

imbroglio, break dirt.
Blood-orange moon—

spunking palms.
As circumstance

is moral authority, no one
is or is not deranged. Nor is here

to be accounted as snakes
sighing through the tall grass,

a rabbit’s imperative
to stomp. What in such plenitude

may resist. The rutted
path ornamenting itself over

already cannot bear
children. But in the creepers,

a rudimentary
musculature is assembling.

Today is your birthday.

Primal Landscape, 4 Ways

Could you step out into this city, as approaching
the crest of its hill
its amber pin-prick

carillon is upswept: could you
go further, o honeyed black

seraph is unkempt, is rising, spreading
              its future as pennons sidereal

but that are not the stars. 
But on foot there is no nevering
                          the stars.

We turned back frightened by the carcass of a dog.
As if it were your parents,
in the woods, the hairs of your body

before your body knew further.  Your parents

in their perpetual wintering.  The gibbous moon came
long ossified, done bone
diffuse in the long

              unwatched night.  Frightened.  As if it were
my parents.

              At the end of reverse passage
the plush heathering skies of the canyon
past dusk, and further: could it be

believing in war begins there

still, as the cat on the stony jut practices
its jaw with languor
of the unchallenged: unfueled, knowing nothing

of this modern bargaining, for trust and hedges.  And one of us
might have wept for it.

 So lessons in basic geography became lessons in how with hunger
              to identify the cardinals.  Wild, clustered

back country habitations, huckleberry, hunting lantern, sanctuary

in a stand of pines, a steeple of pines, complications
of electronica, railroads, myth of the self-
              made man, where is the golf course.  

If we were touched it was still a childhood

of strengthened ankles. I have arrived at the end
of drugs so before this
              we might tremble.