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One Long Leaving

                                    Marie-Elizabeth Mali


My cat near dead at the foot of the bed,
the moon coming through the shade to claw

at my face, I give up on sleep and get up
to type this poem. Bala follows and tries

to make of my arms a pillow. I hate to shoo
him away, but I do, afraid I’ll lose the words

that got me out of bed at this late hour
if I give in to this cat I’m also afraid to lose.

I want loss, insatiable, to pound its fist
on another’s door tonight. No, that’s not it.

Tired of life as one long leaving, I want
loss to fall in a well and drown,

everyone deaf to its cries, as they walk
to the café and chat with one another.

Let me sleep unafraid of what new hammer
might smash my heart in the morning.


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