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ISSUE:  Winter 2003
Whenever I hear someone say “forsythia,” that word
into shrapnel petals so abundantly yellow

       it sparks
the spring from black soil and makes the grass catch flame again
       and burn green

under my bare feet, I still hear “for Cynthia.” When I was six, its branches
       budded into
a tangle of barbed-wire wildfire for Cynthia,

       my favorite
baby-sitter, whose own lithe trunk had sprouted
       breasts in the last

half year. For her the swallows returned, scissoring
       across the sky’s
blue-and-white fingerpainting, cumulus clouds that were

       the wind’s palm prints.
For her boys on stingray bicycles swarmed the streets at dusk
       like fireflies

and popped wheelies. The land mines of crocus and daffodil
under our feet. Winter’s cease-fire was broken. For her it rained

       five days
straight. When the sun came back, our cat Tippy left muddy paw-print flowers
       on the hot hood

of our white Chevy, the engine still ticking after the ignition
       had been turned off.
For her Ralph, the scrawny neighbor kid, climbed onto his wet

       roof on Easter Sunday and threw
uncooked eggs at us. One splattered against the ripe swell of her hip. Its yolk dripped
       yellow down

her blue denim dress and onto her bare calf’s winter-white
       skin. For her
I yelled, shook my fists at him, and dared him

       to come down
and be a man. She only laughed, blew him a kiss, dipped her index finger
       into the yolk

and streaked my nose yellow. Forsythia. For Cynthia. Let all our words
To open into blossom, the world must be misspoken and misheard.


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