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———Ecclesiastes 12:1, 6
Song of Songs 2:16


————-—Before the days come
————-—When I shall say I have no pleasure in them

When the golden bowl



                                    ————-—      Old


be broken


the wheel broken at

my beloved is mine

I need to do two things

and I am his

Write the truth about the plague year the bardo
(It is very like the Holland Tunnel endless gray)

Take my bulletproof vest             off, take it off

I mean I need
I mean I need to love with the love that is milk before the pitcher

Finally I did so with my mother          love            flawed  /  flowed                   

I do it in moments      with my man

down the mountain we go

not running      careful not to trip

over a root or a rock

and fall and break

a leg bone or skull


down the mountain we go toddling

never too late

smoke no help me

mushroom no help me

shekhinah help me

to love without cause without cease



Alicia Ostriker’s most recent poetry collection is The Volcano and After: Selected and New Poems 2002–2019 (Pitt Poetry Series). She was New York State Poet from 2018 to 2021. Essays on her work are at




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