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ISSUE:  Spring 1981
The ferry moves from shore
towards the islands, quiet as sleepers.
My last time here
I didn’t have a scar. Now, from the maze
of tall buildings, old men rummaging
through garbage, slow throb
of lights, I’ve entered again
this calm.

Each night as I fall off to sleep
I still think of the knife
the rapist held beneath my eye.
Part of my mind ticked abstractly on:
the knife, it is beautiful, a hardened flame,
a flame that will not die.

The ferry moves forward through the night,
the pale moon slowly eclipsed
by the clouds.

I had a friend who lost most of his face
before he died, the cancer like ants
eating him alive.
He wore gauze to cover up the scars
so strangers wouldn’t flinch.
Sundays we went fishing.
I looked into his eyes and was afraid.
Together we rocked in our little boat.

Sometimes I touch the scar beneath my eye
as if I could reach down inside it
and find the rapist’s face
still sneering, talking to itself,
wet and soft as a fetus.

Sometimes I stare into a fireplace
and see in the ashen, crumbling wood
my friend’s ruined face.

The ferry bears its few lights
towards the islands, through what appears
to be emptiness, without end.


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