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Published: Wed Jul 1 2009
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.
A Year or More

I was never taught how to blow my nose.
Your nose, my father tells me, is not your own.

I ask him what this means.
He replies, America.

_                                   _~

I watch my wife pluck her eyebrows,
shave her legs.

A woman loving herself
—what I never saw my mother do—

what my father would not allow,
young in his marriage_._

_                                   _~

America: first-class stripper with a space program,
bladed lawns trimmed to the sidewalk.

_                                   _~

My wife knows nothing of stumps
—drilling the hole, pouring the gas.

Waiting. A year or more
for the corrosion, the eating of the roots.

She knows nothing of hooking that stump
with a hoe and pulling it from dead clay.

Kerry James Evans is the author of Bangalore (Copper Canyon Press). His poems have appeared in Georgetown Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, New England Review, The Pinch, Poet Lore, AGNI, Roger, The Spoon River Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He is assistant professor of English at Tuskegee University. (updated 9/2019)

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