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Near Taken

                                    Sarah Sweeney


Ask me and I’ll tell you everything
          the man wanted. You already know it.
The white van, its ripped leather,
          lens-off camera,
the playground edged with forsythia,
          those reaching weeds, sandbox sloughing
away at young legs, tiny as bees,
          all honey, all light, all dizzying love.
I was the one, the one he lured
          to the chainlink fence, my shirt
bore a bird, wingless, dumb. I didn’t know that,
          the way his mouth opened, a hive
releasing the swarm. The parched grass
          nipped my ankle—did no one see me?
Did the bees block the sun? Did I mistake
          the man for my father, was he the prophet
descended from clouds? My seashell eyes knew
          no better; my hand in his palm
a barter, jagged arrowhead, sinew of leather.
          Where would he take me—bottom
of Buffalo Creek where they pulled girl
          after girl from the cattails that fall?
Ask me, and I’ll sing you the song,
          the young teacher’s voice calling my name.
The man was running then; the man was gone.
          Then we were: the playground emptied,
all that grass pressed by little footsteps told
          to keep running. When I think
of that ridge bottoming, I think of my sisters,
          their brunette wings, limbs pale milk
and ash, honeycomb lips turned blue like swallowing
          so much water, like swallowing a stone.
What I want to say is I got lucky.
          Someone called me back.


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