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Portrait of Lucy with Fine Nile Jar

My torso is a cedar chest in the brief closet
Of the middle of a country, hollow

                         Until three young sisters
Curl there like marsupials and shut

The bevelled door and die there,
                         Not determined yet, into

The camphored pouch of an Otherworld.
Around this death there was a fine Nile jar

Of halo-light, where I am
                         Thinking of you now,

                         Everything; you’re all
                         Over;

Out of time like a nightjar In the diorama of the great hall

Of prehistory, depicting the tiny cataclysmic
                         Moment of some mythic, leggy

Accident that changed the world
One day, numinous as a Petrarchan

Sunflower in the night. A moment
                         Perfect as a bee suspended

In the perfect weather of a honey jar.
Your heart was cinctured, full, surrounded

By a hinder of restharrow
                         Roots, nestled in its little parasol

Of amber grief, willful as a wooden tiger standing
                         In an empty yellow room.

While you were leaving, I was lying, eastward,
On my back, like a pharaoh counting

The layers of muslin wound
Around my cumbrous (nearly human)

Hand, counting the days until
                                               An evermore arrives.

—Lucie Brock-Broido


Lucie Brock-Broido is the author of A Hunger, The Master Letters, and Trouble in Mind. She is the director of poetry in the School of the Arts at Columbia University.

Originally published in the February/March 2004 issue of Boston Review.



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