Denise Duhamel (1961 / Woonsocket, Rhode Island)
The blue forest, chilled and blue, like the lips of the dead
if the lips were gone. The year has been cut in half
with dull scissors, the solstice still looking for its square
on the calendar. Perhaps the scissors were really
lawn mowers or hoes. Perhaps God's calendar is Chinese.
As first I didn't understand those burlap dolls
slouched in Central Pennsylvania craft stores.
Where were the button eyes, the tiny pearl nostrils?
the smudgy pink watercolor cheeks?
I enter the woods--part Gretel, part Little Red.
Such a small patch of sun makes it to the ground
through the leaves. The tree trunks are all elbows and knees,
all arthritis and gripes. The Amish think it's wrong
to render nature, quilts abstracting each pattern's name
of tree, buggy, corn, horse, farm.
My uncle, not Amish but superstitious, holds his palm
to the camera in a Christmas photo. Before she died
my grandmother ripped up all the pictures of herself.
She liked a novel with mystery, magazines without nudity.
The boy was killed by a drunk driver. My Amish neighbors
forgive. I prefer seeing it all, the snot, the optical nerve, the liver
behind the belly's skin. I prefer a good fight,
a wailing of grief. The Farmers' Market sells apples
as red as tricycles. The dolls without faces
want it silent. The forest, all anger and yesterday,
newspapers blank as white cotton sheets.
the branches, the teeth, the awful vees.
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