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Published: Fri Jul 1 2016
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.

In candle-lit flickering, you trace
rib’s slope. Your bed
of dark strata, each seam a deeper
face. Not far from here, a town
built on a mine caught fire
fifty years ago and is still
burning. Beneath the overburden
of those other lives—friable surface
where residents of small hope
and coal smoke make peanut butter
sandwiches or bicker, or sing
their coal-tinged lullabies—we move
in upcast shadow. Lampless
and luminous, breath crumbles again
in the smoldering, the bitumen,
the glittering ore body.

Eleanor Stanford is the author of two books of poems, Bartram’s Garden and The Book of Sleep (both from Carnegie Mellon University Press). Her poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, The Harvard Review, AGNI, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. She lives in the Philadelphia area. (updated 8/2016)

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