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profile/ailish-hopper.md
Published: Sat Oct 15 2011
Art by Jin Suk
15 1/2

When
you’re done here
,
says the woman,

not recognizing
_             _ her new neighbor cutting
_                           _ his own grass.

An echo of, from the kitchen,
_             _ my aunt, who yelled, Jack!

                             Why don’t you get that
nigger to come here

and mow
the lawn?

_                             _ And later,
an ebony-skinned man came

_                             _ in a khaki cap, removed
_             _ at her front door.
A yankee from DC, I watched

_             _ as if I could discern the cause.
All progress, un–

_                             _ transformed
_             _ as the goldfinch when young,
_                                          _ dun–
colored, in early spring. At 15 1/2 I am sure

_             _ I can get
                               to the bottom
of this. Tranquility—Blood
_             _ that connects. The finch clings

_                              _ to feed—
_                              _ Youth! Restless!

_                                           _ Relentless—On towering stalks
_             _ that threaten, sway.
_                                                       _ My aunt, an old-school
_             _ Alabaman, laughs and jokes,

_             _ offers the man
                               sweet tea
_             _ the granules soft now, melted away
_                                                                     _ —A blur, a blur

_                                                                                   _ of Ours
                               were well-treated, and
                                               Blessed to die before

              his son, from river delivered
_                              _ to clammy ground.

The finch is willing, will
_             _ consume

_                              _ even the spiniest
_                                            _ seeds. And only

_                              _ by this, appears,
_                                             _ in fall—
_                              _ Yellow, astonishing
_                              _ —Neon shock

_                                           _ —Not new, just

_                              _ unthinkable—
_             _ This one

_                              _ who is not by past, but

_             _ by future, made.

See what's inside AGNI 74

Ailish Hopper’s chapbook, Bird in the Head, was selected by Jean Valentine for the 2005 Center for Book Arts prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Letters & Commentary, AGNI, Ploughshares, Poetry, Tidal Basin Review, and elsewhere. She has received grants and fellowships from the Baltimore Commission for the Arts and Humanities, Vermont Studio Center, and Yaddo. She lives in Baltimore and teaches at Goucher College. (updated 10/2011)

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