Aftermath - Poem by Claudia Emerson
I think by now it is time for the second cutting.
I imagine the field, the one above the last
house we rented, has lain in convalescence
long enough. The hawk has taken back the air
above new grass, and the doe again can hide
her young. I can tell you now I crossed
that field, weeks before the first pass of the blade,
through grass and briars, fog — the night itself
to my thighs, my skirt pulled up that high.
I came to what had been our house and stood outside.
I saw her in it. She reminded me of me —
with her hair black and long as mine had been —
as she moved in and then away from the sharp
frame the window made of the darkness.
I confess that last house was the coldest
I kept. In it, I became formless as fog, crossing
the walls, formless as your breath as it rose
from your mouth to disappear in the air above you.
You see, aftermath is easier, opening
again the wound along its numb scar; it is the sentence
spoken the second time — truer, perhaps,
with the blunt edge of a practiced tongue.
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