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Audio: Read by the author.


We played a word game on the mountain,
spelled cuneiform, spelled thoracic:

the game’s strict rules
encourage motion

up through thistles, saffron,
yellow stains.

A word, another word,
inside you an initial framework.

Inside the body

As commanded,
the boxes form a tower.

Every one after her tongue—
inside you, a spindle knits.

Inside the boxes linen, pinned.
And flapping paper, just enough friction

to keep the game on its feet.
A cut in the scrub

of this elevation. It is the season
for scatter. And alpine flowers. Being confounded

the lightest destruction. Spell havoc,
a hive by the roadside,

the noise of the archive,
prepare for the break.




Madeleine Cravens is an MFA candidate at Columbia University, where she is a Max Ritvo Poetry Fellow. She received her BA from Oberlin College. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in Best of the Net, The Adroit Journal, Palette, Folio, Frontier, and New Ohio Review. She lives in Brooklyn.

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