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"Where have you been," says my old friend the poet,

"and what have you been doing?" The question

weighs and measures me like an unpaid bill,

hangs in the air, waiting for some remittance.


Well, I've been coring apples, layering them

in raisins and brown sugar; I've been finding

what's always lost, mending and brushing,

pruning houseplants, remembering birthdays.


The wisdom of others thunders past me

like sonic booming; what I know of the world

fits easily in the palm of one hand

and lies quietly there, like a child's cheek.


Spoon-fed to me each evening, history

puts on my children's faces, because they

are the one alphabet all of me reads.

I've been setting the table for the dead,


rehearsing the absence of the living,

seasoning age with names for the unborn.

I've been putting a life together, like

supper, like a poem, with what I have.

Rhina P. Espaillat



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



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Amreta's Graphics Corner

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