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III. Or, the Illuminator Who Reads to Islanders

ISSUE:  Winter 2008

Mother Acrostic Lays One Fat Finger

Down the middle of a page, and reads it aloud,
ligatures and all. It is a bestiary, or a book of lives,
a passional or corpus; it will not survive, from flyspecks
to flyleaves, will be lost along with her hand. Nested

in her eaves, birds gush to each other, all quills upright
in their permanent ink. Suddenly the finger is severed.
It is not yours, says the islander, illiterate, of course;
it is an annexation of our lived-on land; yet he leaves
it there. It smears a little cochineal, but Mother
Acrostic feels nothing, the tip of a braid dipped

in an inkwell, where in the shade it spins down
terminal leaf after leaf. Her eyelids are overgrown
cuticles, and close. The finger points north on the page:
a sunning inchworm, a long digestion of dirt, warm ingot

of indirection and golden


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