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Reclaiming These Hills
by Nancy Shiffren

cruelty is what I have of him
steel blade exquisitely honed
fine pearl handle gleaming in the sun
this knife I found buried
in the hills above our home
a Hammond organ carols White Christmas
Jeopardy blares
grief a barely odorous gas permeates
I break my promise to his Papa's ghost
cannot seduce him from poisonous drink
mad chases at 80 miles per hour
the childhood friend who drove
a Cadillac over the sheer cliffs
strange women clutching pieces of his sleeve
he falls so eagerly into their need
I could not coax him to this crevasse
above the dam's reflection
brackish branches etched against eerie sky
sky hardening to hard orange halo
grass suddenly emerald
as pink seeps into pale clouds
lacy as bone leached of calcium
nor tempt him with buttercups after a heavy rain
somewhere we will always be reading
together feet touching
heavens darkening behind the evening news
blue birds will dominate the ravine again
Hawk will plant his seed
high above the rains
the knife will be rusted dull
reburied in muddy soil



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