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Letitia Trent

The Fool

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The maps are beautiful
in their folded booklets.

The atlases, too, have marks
where the mountains rise

and the highways cut. The text
reminds you that some

stretches of distance
cannot be crossed, so long

the way, so empty
of amenities. The map

includes possible times
of arrival, the distance

you might go by foot before
you fall face-first,

before your tongue
fills your mouth, before

you see such visions
the Bible terrors cannot

beat them. But your feet
could get there. Men have walked

up and over mountains,
women given birth

in crashing taxis as the windshield
sprayed the interior in

its green, fine powder.
You will reach the edge

of the map, the dog behind
you, naked, your clothes

in your bundle, who needs them?
You'll find the edge, the finger-deep

ridge on the map,
and believe you've gone across it

The Magician

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Your instruments are before you
your well, your weapon, your coin, your stick


Here is the dream of every child
who can't find the place
where the body balances on the moving bicycle


Some people can right
a spilled cup with just
a mimed gesture, a whip
of the fine, loose fingers

some can run backward
within the time we usually
sit inside, a vehicle going only
forward: I have seen such

elegant habitations of air
that make the room fit
the body's spaces, make time
run whatever way required.

This is what you can do
with the body, fool.

Swallow the cup filled with Christ-knows- what.
Buy a piece of heavy jewelry.
Pick your way across the pebbles.
Insert the sword anywhere.

The High Priestess

I carved you on my body to locate
that whistling place
like the dark between buckteeth

Hello humming
in my head, bluebirds
in my wrist, cat crying
in my stomach, my skin
turned to snakeskin,
cold as the moon at my feet,
the marble my knees knuckle
my shade puddles

Here's the image
I keep like a doll
in my chest, this
one who knows and holds
my well-weighted pendulum
my stock of good cards
the pictures like pictures

I imagined as a child—the horse tied
in the backyard where the pond
overflowed with ice

it died before I was born

It was white

Mother had cried

sometimes it neighed

and woke the kittens

their eyes just opening

in the leftover banana boxes

I had other pictures,
now absent from their frames
their settings waving in the wind

of their absence,
give them back now,

fat fist,
marble in my chest,
doll whose hair
and hands won't move

but inside my empty
head the roots still rustle

The Empress

In the corn, among the whistling husks
and plugs of sweet, soft teeth, the silk brushes
our thighs. Our hands touch those tassels.

It's not as though we planned it.

We rose one morning and knew
how to find it, where we were going, what we wanted
to feel when we found it, though not
what we would find. The sky bulges,

with the potential of water. As girls,
we had seen those women
with round stomachs. We asked our mothers
how the skin could stretch so
without splitting. We asked, once we knew
what was inside them,

how it could happen, how one
could wake after, mostly whole,
with the same name and address
when it was over.

Those domes, drum-tight and veined
kept us awake
with their impossible dimensions.

We still have nightmares.
Now we know where to bring them.

Not always to the corn, of course,
or even any blossom. It's not the location
but the distance
between our beds and bare feet

and the destination we're not sure of,
but slide toward,

Jenny says it's this way,

her pockets bulging with copper.

Mary says it's another,

and she's covered in blue

from chin to ankle.

The Emperor

You never had a father
so it's difficult for you to see him
bearded on his throne
rams carved into the oak
the earth in his hand—he doesn't bother
to explain

where was he when the world
needed order, his sword sheathed,
his plenty kept in berry-sized jewels
in his crown, his horn
lowered in sleep

Still, he sits at the center
his very body makes order
crossing and uncrossing in clean lines
unlike yours, ripping out
its own lining

What do you need to order?
How does the King rhyme
with every King you throned
in his absence?

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