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The birth occurred in the morning and the doctor’s name
was Italian. There was no catastrophe of mindless proportion
in Quito, Ecuador that buried thousands alive in a river of mud.
Neither was it boiling out, but simply mild, for you have checked
the newspaper’s headlines for that day. The president
did not call in troops to keep peace among the rioting looters.
The police never did catch that murderer who left the girl
child behind the schoolhouse, one shoe off and never found:
a trophy he retains in an old trunk stowed under his bed.
At night he takes them out—left shoe, charm bracelet, barrette—
to touch and smell. His name is not John. The two brown horses
tethered to the riding pole were grazing in the field when the boy,
dreaming of Sarah, threw his smoke into the stall and walked away.
He did not hear the horses stirring, did not write a bad love song,
practicing three chords on a cheap guitar well into the night.
There is no Sarah. A woman once again on that day failed to call
the boiler repairman and he never took the toothpick from his mouth
to fix her eyeglasses with where the little pin had fallen out.
Emily Fragos is the author of Little Savage (Grove/Atlantic, 2004) and Hostage: New & Selected Poems (Sheep Meadow Press, 2011). Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, Threepenny Review, Yale Review, and numerous other journals. She is the recipient of a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, and a 2014 American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award Winner.
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