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Virgin of the milk,
you enchant words
and they enchant you.
As I grow older,
leave powdered sugar
on my shoulder
and the smell of hunger
on my neck. Bear with me,
your lonely neighbor
and his cup of nothing.
Even your glance can be
as uselessly pure
as the tongue of a lion
or as wise as a German dwarf genius
to her little princess.

If there is a chime in me,
like a clock-loving queen
find time to move my hands.
Tell me again
the invention of sifted flour
and nectarines.
Make a history of my mistakes.
When I speak here
like some plastic bag
tousled in the branches
of a winter-crippled tree,
say, Almost almond blossoms.

say, Here, it took a brace of mules to turn a key.
Here, the ocean’s childhood set sail.
Here, with such boredom the Romans executed saints.
Here, all that remains of the Moors is almonds.

Some see the nightingale as Mr. Ruin.
Some take the earthquake for a motor.
Some can turn a dried fig and skinned almonds into a flower.
Some sail and take west for east. No matter.

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

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