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119| The Castro, 1986

Alison Powell

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We were fools in a jumble of pandemic. Afraid of the oblivion
we desired; craving the oblivion we feared. Drinking down
new elixirs, pretending we fancied ourselves out-smarters.

Now, in the country, we do not admit to each other the relief
with which we bear the kaleidoscope of images - ash, wrapped
bodies; the blooming, volcanic skin. Pop-eyed and wired, us,
the living. Playing peek-a-boo in a field of wildflowers, waltzing

in an absence of ambulance sirens. We were the tail end
of a line out of the city. We followed the priests, the rich,
together we fled– after all, it was after us! This is the benefit

of ill: refuge and sleep. In this pasture we scrub ourselves
hard as diamonds, sing and mend our pockets, joking
about our metaphysical makeover. At dawn we whisper

to the children:   when we return to the pruned city we will be welcomed
                               by the strong backs of a thousand orphaned horses,
                               a few kind widows who will have unmarked the doors.

Alison Powell's first collection of poems, On the Desire to Levitate, will be published by Ohio University Press in March 2014. Her work has appeared in journals including AGNI, Black Warrior Review, Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Guernica, and others, and in anthologies including Best New Poets 2006 . She is completing a PhD in English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

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