[Prayer for seven years]

Listen I do not want your pity I was a child and I did

not speak did not understand and now the story has

no power yes I was I still am that one yesterday and

the day before and all the ones that came after listen

I loved more than anything my mother listen this spring

to the wings scraping the air raw watch the seething

shore where dying songbirds are stones the journey

made I stand on this southern shore and spring throws

dying birds like vile rain like rain trying to find its sad

its orphaned way home I stand alone and she has

already been gone a long time and we all know the story

in those seven years the body is remade inside itself

my hands have been recast as the hands of a stranger

she was my mother and he was not my father and you

you are not my lover not my love any longer and all

migrations end but some of us don’t ever make it home

so I’ll go on on moving past the time the hands that forgot

her greet you too as a stranger each gesture a flight path

to a new shore where the joss paper boats sail out

and we wait for their time to end all those years ago

or here on this shore or later on some other

Leslie Harrison

Leslie Harrison

Leslie Harrison’s second book, The Book of Endings (U of Akron, 2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her first book, Displacement (Mariner, 2009) won the Bakeless Prize in poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Look for recent and forthcoming poems in West Branch, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore IRL and at leslie-harrison.com on the web.
Leslie Harrison

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Author: Leslie Harrison

Leslie Harrison’s second book, The Book of Endings (U of Akron, 2017) was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her first book, Displacement (Mariner, 2009) won the Bakeless Prize in poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Look for recent and forthcoming poems in West Branch, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic and elsewhere. She lives in Baltimore IRL and at leslie-harrison.com on the web.