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Today I am going to try not knowing,
learn little and get nothing
out of it. Pliant and afloat
as a waterlily, I’ll cradle my cup
of water and sip it like wine, knowing
good and well the taste of it is plain
as glass, as a sucked-clean dime.
I’ll try not thinking
of God and wonder why he keeps me
in the dark though I beg and beg
for help, my prayers sharp
as skeins of red vinegar on my tongue.

Lord, the trees can let go
of every leaf when the air tells them: Now.

Tonight, I am going to water my ball of mud
and try not to touch and touch
the tender blades of grass shooting up
like the thorn, the thorn
in my side.


Roxane Beth Johnson is the author of Black Crow Dress (Alice James) and Jubilee (Anhinga). Her poems have appeared in The Pushcart Prize, Harvard Review, Georgia Review, and elsewhere.

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

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