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from the September 2011 issue


And then she died on us, utterly.
The leg dead, the foot rough.
The bend of the knee glows with emptiness.
And the belly’s warmth turns to ash,
a black sachet filled with down.

Even the cigarette, that meager butterfly,
the joining of lung, poison, and breath,
is merely an inscription on a signboard
that says nothing to passers-by.
The mouth it rules being dead.

And even I, lying on sheets
already musty in late morning,
as disposable as a syringe, soak it up
like a ball of cotton and darken within.

Much as I’d like to brighten up and dye my hair,
to change the conversation’s tone and direction,
we’re dealing with a voice that will remain
deaf to any sound but its own.

Translation of “W starym stylu.” © Edward Pasewicz. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2011 by Benjamin Paloff. All rights reserved.

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