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Published: Thu Oct 15 1981
Art by Jin Suk
Relic

This strongbox full of ash, this valentine
is nothing
except what is all
the more transparent for it: fingerprint

over an eye, the eye a last reminder
to look quietly,
as though this hush without a gesture could be
closing your mother’s eyes, or placing

glass pennies over lids to help her see
her way asleep. This is your way
to love. Two years, this box of bone like burnt tears
accumulates a patience like white space

around it near the unused shoehorns.
Two years of unwept dust. She left you nothing
you can reason with, just bone prints
everything would touch: the hedge let go, the hammock

spilled wide to the river that reflects a lazy sky.
In a ravelling of ash, she would leave a world hurriedly
forgiven in the last touch scattered. She would leave you
everywhere, your hands blown empty. In the end,

is there no difference between a son and weather?
In the release of all she is and has
unnamed, the world
is left in a braille of possibilities, her finger
watching: yours.

See what's inside AGNI 15

Frannie Lindsay is a former NEA Literature Fellow. Her first book of poems, Where She Always Was, received the 2004 May Swenson Award sponsored by Utah State University Press. Her work has been twice nominated for inclusion in the Pushcart Anthology. New work is forthcoming in The Atlantic Monthly, AGNI, The Yale Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Apostrophe, Prairie Schooner, Harvard Review and Hunger Mountain. (updated 1/2005)

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