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Julie Brooks Barbour


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My lover warns me not to go beyond the backyard
or down the long hallway. He leaves with no

indication he will return. The day becomes longer.
I watch potted plants grow new tendrils.

I turn in circles around my fixed space.
When I walk down the hall, static fills

my brain. It feels like what I know of bees
and sudden bursts of noise. I return

to my space. The plants spread new leaves.
I stare at the backyard, its stone walkway.

While Downtown Buildings Burn

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Flames rise along with sirens and smoke.
He leaves directions and the hiding places

of his best weapons. There is a kiss.

There are words from his mouth
I cannot hear above the scanner.

His note tells me to line doors

with blankets and not to leave
the apartment. The first thing I do

is start a fire in the street to call him back.

After the Fire

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I sort through the damage.
A field guide of birds curls into ashes.

I clean the warped lenses
of my binoculars with a shirttail.

Every piece of furniture stands charred.
Friend, you give me a place to stay

until I can right myself. You invite
someone I have not seen in years,

who I thought lost to the past.
His hair and face shine

like when we were young.
I sink into the years between us,

his dark hair like a set of wings.
His eyes glimmer as if he might fly away.

At the End of a Long Driveway

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Low visibility this morning.
A thick mist tightens my curls

while I wait in front of a house.

Wheels grind gravel. A motor slows.
The curved outline of a car appears,

emerges from the fog, and stops.

No door opens. No window
eases down. No one

steps out. I brush
damp curls from my forehead,

the slightest twitch in my hand.

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