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Published: Fri Apr 15 2016
Eva Lundsager, Were now like (detail), 2021, oil on canvas
AGNI 83 Aging Loss Nature
Wild Nights

might I but moor

        —Emily Dickinson


The driveway led to papers she could read. She had
a house, a window out, a covered porch.

Two oaks sickened with blight. The rest

stayed, their branches wild in storms. These residential
roads she walked with him at dusk, the couple, elderly.

The curbs held anthills and some fungi. Fireflies.

She knew the yard, the bits of cloud, the places where the
                                                                                    grass had died.
Wind blew away her marriage nest.

The leaves fell down. The twigs dropped down

and every day she picked them up. It occupied her time.
The snow shone down, and she stayed in. Then it was spring.

The magnolia bloomed opulently without him.


She cut the shrubs and swept the brick. She moved the houseplants
from the sun. Outside, first Crocus, then Azalea, Daffodils.

She might have pinned them to her side if she’d been warned

they’d all be left behind. She knew her house. She thinks she knows
your name but now it’s blank. She’s hatched

to elsewhere: who she loved is gone, a house she can’t see clearly.

The weather now is fierce. Hear,
make out the silhouettes that thump

her standard elocution’s now in ribbons

through her abdomen. Whose hands are these?
She saw them on her mother once, before she flew away.

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Valerie Duff is the author of the collection To The New World (Salmon Poetry, 2010), shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize (Queen’s University, Belfast). Her poems have appeared in The Common, Solstice, AGNI, The Antioch Review, Verse, The Prague Revue, and elsewhere and her reviews in Harvard Review and The Boston Book Review. Former managing editor of AGNI and poetry editor of Salamander, she has received an individual artist grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and was the 2015 Poetry Fellow at the Writers’ Room of Boston. (updated 4/2016)

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