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Published: Sat Jul 1 2006
Art by Jin Suk
Explanation Beginning With a River

Swimming in a thin print dress among piranhas—
that year, you learned a place I can’t fathom.

In a jungle three thousand miles away, you
watched sea turtles bury their eggs in the dark;

you gathered bitter cassavas, drained their poison
for days to make bread.

_                                                  _ You have patients now:

a woman drips with toxins, a guy in a johnny
chases you down the hall
_                                                    _cursing for opiates.

You have this place you go to—white distance.

I can shake the sky for nighthawks and parse

the bark-puzzle of a London Plane. It doesn’t
matter how many other people I talk to:

at home, I listen to the pipes thrum inside
our walls. I don’t know how to be alone.

Gibson Fay-LeBlanc’s first collection of poems, Death of a Ventriloquist (2012), was chosen by Lisa Russ Spaar for the Vassar Miller Prize. His poems have appeared in magazines including Guernica, The New Republic, AGNI Online, and Tin House, as well as on the PBS NewsHour Art Beat Blog. Fay-LeBlanc has received awards from the Bellevue Literary Review and UC Berkeley. For more information, visit gibsonfayleblanc.com. (updated 8/2012)

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