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Poetry

The talk was on God’s tabernacle, a diagram
with the palm of his hand, fingers tucked
into the holy place, when you threw an apple to me.
I wondered until I saw the rough square cut.

Inside the fruit, a note damp with seeds
and juice, You are altogether beautiful,
my darling. There is no blemish in you. You spent
that night tracing the articulation

of my ankle bone as we crowded on the floor.
I was halfway up the stairs when your fingers
found my leg. A leader not much older than us
wore a shirt with a circle and line drawn through

the letters SR, no special relationships.
It was the first rule we broke there.
He was the one who caught us one night after dark.
Maybe we wanted to be sent home.

Maybe it would have been clearer what we did believe in,
if we had admitted what we did not. Instead, we clung
to each other under the mai’a trees, kissed
like the saved. You carved my name

into a stalk of sugar cane, filled it with
lehua flowers, and pushed me on a strip
of swing until my hips rose higher
than the tips of the leaf buds on the banyan below.


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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