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Nearer to the Bone

                                    Ken Turner


Lately our talk has taken a turn,
shifted degree, the way a windsock
swivels in the breeze or an idled kayak

eases into current, toward how
a prodigal light honeys the bleached
city late each day, how

birdsong swarms into cloud, which
friends’ faces have begun to soften and smooth,
compose themselves like timeworn quilts,

and whose continue to crack and craze,
trenched with anger or crosshatched
by the delicate nib of grief. Hurts so

bad we heard her say, the woman
in the nursing home, the one dragged
past a century, then I’m so

afraid to die. In their stringent beds
out front, the cannas, red and yellow, hauled and
hauled their heavy petals into bloom.

What we’re working to learn
as skin folds closer to bone:
to knead our fingers into release,

curb our grips, to journey and return
with nearly empty bags,
no duty-free Chanel or scotch,

the local periwinkle shells
and pale green baskets admired and left behind,
our arms at ease and free of flowers.


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