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Ava C. Cipri


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she was closed in its framing
on the inside
she was locked
on the far side
denied her endless answers
drowning in a sea of rose trees
varnished carnelian pink:
an unapologetic passion

caught staring, she
nourishes one in light

Erasure sourced from Gregory Magurie’s After Alice, HarperCollins (2015), pp. 57-60.

Cousin Heidi’s Kaleidoscope

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I can’t be trusted. I laid on my side too long
with one ear pressed to warm crabgrass
the other filling with snow. This is how
one filters memory.

Sometimes after the rains crackle
the woodchip beds in our back yard,
Heidi climbs the plum’s wet back
into the cool camouflage with a rusty
hoe belted around her waist. Like our fathers,
the tree surgeons. Each strike from the hoe’s edge
punctures the flesh.
Her palm against the juicy scab,
against its steady thrum.

Nights, my body curled into a question
behind my cousin in her narrow canopy bed.
Down the hall her father’s last weeks
of cancer sifting through his floating frame.
I drift between downy sheets,
my chin carefully shelved on her shoulder,
lost in the texture of Autumn hair, residual steam of woodchips.

A waning moon shellacs October’s window,
and I come to know the consequence of the seasons.

As I know along her body’s inseam, above the knees,
underneath the St. Cecelia’s pleated jumper
she carries a kind of permanence. Hot cigarette ash,
burned, a signature she would always wear.

In dream, it’s the backyard brook with its perfect white ducks
catching our bread in their hooked mouths
as the maples break;
their rusted blades propelling towards us.


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Witness, I remember
the snowman on the moor; stars
over the Dordogne; the hanging man;
the moon and the tree.

Words for the nursery
in plaster
balloons         owl
poems, potatoes
the beekeeper’s daughter
epitaph for fire and flower.

Morning song departure—
barren woman blackberrying
crossing the water.

Night shift:
I want, I want
two views of a cadaver room
dark wood, dark water
among the Narcissi.

This cento is sourced from titles in Sylvia Plath’s The Collected Poems, Harper & Row Publishers (1981).

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