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Their Only Child


I am the one that doesn't get away.

Their blood tumbles with promise, teeming

quicksilver too luminous to stay;

I am their whole catch, landed and streaming


rainbows. Those others they dream of—the charmer,

the saint, my father's magnificent son—

circle the wormed hook, but sensing harm,

slide on forever. I am the one


trailing their bait through the film of the ideal,

rising to this flawed light. No more, no less

than actual, like a death, I am the real

one, the waking, the caress.


Rhina P. Espaillat



From Landscapes with Women: Four American Poets,
Singular Speech Press, © 1999.  Reprinted by permission
of the author.

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