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The girl was known for shitting in her yard.  
I did so little for her.  She was small, a dandelion orb
with ragged hair like an old woman’s burnt from dye.  
Her face showed little sign of poverty—
it was her dusty shoes cut open at the top that told.
A bone look she’d mastered young, yet the curve
of her face was edible, like a rounded sparrow in hand.  
She wasn’t mean, but did what she wanted—quietly,
with a lift to her chin, while I struggled to teach her anything.
I’d like to say I brushed her brittle hair, called her beautiful,
coaxed out sight words that dawdled on her tongue.   
I dream of her spinning like a fairy dervish in my failure.  
Consider this a prayer, a foolish one.

Source: Poetry (April 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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  • Tara Bray is the author of Mistaken for Song (2009), her first collection of poetry and winner of the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. She earned an MFA from the University of Arkansas, where she held the Walton Fellowship in Creative Writing. Bray has published work in various publications, including Verse Daily, Shenandoah, Crab Orchard Review, and the Southern Review.  

    In his review of Mistaken for Song for Bookslut, Paul Franz noted Bray’s interest in nature, family history, and subjectivity; attentive to the sounds of language, she is able to bring “out the sensory texture of words through alliteration and the jumble of plosive consonants.”

    The recipient of multiple awards and honors, including a State of Nevada Individual Artist Fellowship and a Sierra Arts Foundation Literary Artist Grant, Bray has taught at the University of Nevada, Reno. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
     

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