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Linda Dove

Suit of Coins

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When you were little, you wanted to be many versions
of real. Such as is such a specific question. Such as

a pangolin in his suit of rough coins. Such as a picker
of lavender or radishes. Such as a shell that holds a breath

and a pearl (mostly you wanted to be in proximity to the word
lagoon). Can you imagine wearing armor made of coins,

each one pierced and pulled tight with metal thread, how often
people would want to touch you? Of course, it’s not you

they’re after, so the twinge you feel of happiness or pleasure,
of being the object of someone’s desire, wouldn’t last.

You could try to recreate it, though, in a word like lagoon
or in a house filled with forsythia, forcing itself

like yellow stars out of sticks. What is the point of desire
like this? It’s just an endless scroll of images, a performance

fit for an audience of one, that terminal number. Each coin
you toss in the fountain is a coin you leave behind. And so you try

to be a new thing, a bulb, a card hand that speaks your future,
a sound like hawk bells tied to a talon above you in the sky.

Self-Portrait with Supernatural Map

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I practice in the mirror. Practice labeling my face, mud-well here and this way to tortoise-shell forest. With my fingers, I dab color on what passes for longing like a peony someone’s forgotten to prop up against the rain. Cages stop being supports when they turn sinister, but my voice still moves through the petals, the metal stakes. Even when they surround me. I whisper all day long, at my desk, in my office, you are safe. I talk to myself in the second person, as if the mirror-face has come alive and now walks around in my place. She is bolder than I am and goes looking for enemies in hedgerows. It’s not only feet that find a road. She travels past houses, flat with sameness. If only there was an eyebrow window among them, sash raised to the weather. And here we have the red hills of Marrakesh, which is the name of a lipstick—or perhaps the opened lips. Fences hold back only the less imaginary parts of her. There is a face in the stone, in the wood slat. It will take liberties with the way it looks at clouds, the way they dent the sky. Her idiosyncracies will save her from the fence-builders. Her forgiveness.

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