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Rose Speaks, by Katharine Russell
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Rose Speaks, by Katharine Russell.

Denial, privation, service my lot,
cut my locks, scoured my cheeks,
harboring no hope, other than to bask
in the shadow of the one.
Alas, I am in this valley
with five men, a lizard and sharp-tongued plant.
We rest in a ragged circle around a sandy basket of towns,
pierced by an asphalt arrow and a thunderbolt crack.
A dank wind at my back, the clouds
do what I yearn to do. Fly away east.

The tall one,
garbed in military gray,
bares scars bold as saber slashes.
proud of his lions and bears,
while I look to my lambing.
His brow glacial, his campaign cloak
heavy, its skirts restrain
a legion of invaders.

His neighbor glowers across the pass,
masking from the others view his private sky isle
of oak, pine, eagles and a myriad
of fragile beings imprisoned aloft
because they cannot traverse
the caldron of sand below.
He knows the way
of suicide.

The insignificant brother
tends his willows, his cottonwoods,
his brow circled with tender quail,
his back to the trumpeter. Trusting,
while the bold one,
arms spread to heaven, urging,
down his seeds tumbling,
eyes the wall.

The sterling sage,
jowls long canyons,
hide prickly as foxtail cactus,
knuckles gnarled as woody aster,
visage all moony, mulish,
ignoring antediluvian insight. A fault.
Burrowed in his breast, he veils
the anarchist,
the fissure
of men.

The lizard lies
hunkered in a fortress
to the south. Consorting
with sly coyote, ocotillo, cholla,
and tortoise, the bearer of scales.
Content to barrel down the slope of time.

I fear I killed patience
in another life.
I grow weary
of my place in the circle.
Perhaps I will rise,
pick up my stone-washed skirts,
and stride southeast.
There waits a confection
hiding a golden secret
under a creosote bush.












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Rose Speaks, by Katharine Russell