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In my absence, one sprig of English ivy
has crept through a crack
under my window.

Its rough speared leaves,
once vigorous, now brittle as ash.

I don’t know how it
found its way under the glass
to curl on the wooden ledge,
but welcome it as my guest,

smelling its cedar cousin
on the outdoor vine,
the contorted straw filaments
draped across the sun-warmed sill.

I reach out my left hand,
wanting to feel the waxed green of it—

then draw it to my tongue,
as if at last I could taste God’s skin.




Judith Harris is the author of Night Garden (Tiger Bark), The Bad Secret, Atonement (both from LSU), and Signifying Pain (SUNY). Her poetry has appeared in The Nation, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Slate, Hudson Review, and American Life in Poetry.



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