for Emma Willard
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- To the east, the Berkshires: smudged blue fingerprints on the horizon.
- West-north-west, angle yourself properly,
orient your shoulderblades flat against the pile of white granite,
and the light falls perpendicular to your gaze, rose gold and blue.
- Go down the stairs and through the swinging doors.
Put on someone else's face, someone else's clothes, someone else's words —
when you leave, are you any realer?
- The pond, the mud, the frogs,
the abandoned boot, potamogeton,
fragments of eggshell, all that lies to the south, the other side of the parking lot,
beyond the pavement.
- Passageways, honeycombed
beneath us. Secret knowledge, now,
their navigation, their existence.
- There are first kisses scattered here, like the dandelions behind the chapel.
- The carpet is shabby,
but the piano is in tune. Can't
have everything. What do you want?
Storms come from the world outside our gates, pale lightning
striking out of the west.
- The gargoyles are kind. They laugh,
peer around corners, tumble,
curious, shy, unshocked.
- There's been so much blood here over the years.
The tiles in the bathrooms are all stained with iron.
Wrists, uterus —
a single river splitting and reuniting.
- We're forbidden
to have flame,
even the smallest match cupped in our palms.
Who needs fire
when there are girls just coming into their power all around?
- Honeysuckle, lilac, clover — the books
are as sweet as the air.
- We went to the cemetery
halfway down the mountain to smoke.
The graves exhaled.
- This is not a mountain,
but let's pretend.
Let's pretend we belong here
at the peak.
- The gate is at a strange angle:
enter and we are all a-kilter.
Leave, and the world is skewed.
Choose which way you face,
inside or out,
which strangeness is yours.
- The sapling we planted for her
is taller now than she ever was,
than she ever will be.
The small blazons over the door are blank —
there's room for me to make my mark.
- Ten years on,
and my heart still beats to those rhythms.
There's new anger,
hundreds of miles separate us,
but still: this is the kind of love you only get once,
and that only if you're lucky.
- Even the names of the buildings
are poetry, iambic pentameter,
the English heroic line,
click and tap of the educated palate.
- This is where we learn bitterness:
hazelnut, Sumatran, grief, failure.
This is where we learn love.