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The Gypsy's Late Arrival

                                    Anna Journey


With her swallowtail skimming the goat milk,
that first surface of blue, she offers

to read my future in her slate-bottomed pail. You’re late,
I say in the dream,

my mother’s back
has already healed.
Her white brace, bust shaped,

stands in the closet among the wooly peacoats. It crawls
like a white tortoise toward

the gypsy’s violin-calloused hands. She coos
oil shale and limestone, steam

from the Estonian bog like unraveling sheep. I tell her I won’t go
to the Italian place

with the full copper bar because it smells
like blood since the surgery. No, she says. The smell

is wild mint in a white-peach orchard, the aged
coal trains dragging their strata

of almond-colored smoke. The dusk plums
darken the field like a medical student’s

cut-paper organs,
all labeled in hard Latin. If I had a little girl,

the gypsy says, tracing my spine, I’d name her
Vertebrae: vertere, to turn.


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