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TWENTY-THIRD

Christina Pugh

TWENTY-THIRD

And at the picnic table under the ancient elms,
one of my parents turned to me and said:
“We hope you end up here,”
where the shade relieves the light, where we sit
in some beneficence
—and I felt the shape of the finite
after my ether life: the ratio, in all dappling,
of dark to bright; and yet how brief my stay would be
under the trees, because the voice I’d heard
could not cradle me, could no longer keep me
in greenery; and I would have to say good-by
again, make my way across the white
California sand and back: or am I now creating
the helplessness I heard those words express,
the psalm torn like a map in my hands?