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Out of Town

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Years later, the water still drips—
there's no one to tighten the valve.
It courses through old pipes
down to the septic tank.

Next morning in the cellar
I start the motor with a stick.
It shakes and rumbles, and chirps—
the switch is broken is all.

At night the water arrives
illegally, undergroundly,
to the very grave where
last spring parsley sprouted,

and at the foot, beside it,
feral sorrel darkens
tastily and tartly
like clandestine sex.

The motor lifts the spirits
and returns the night's deductions.
It's morning, I hum softly—
a stranger will replace me.

In the cellar a stream of light
rinses the window grate,
it pulses, strikes the meter—
I catch my rhythm on the stairs.

And for memory's sake I hum—
as I pass the septic tank—
a fluid, underground song
about sorrel and a stranger.

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the February 2005 issue of Poetry magazine

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Out of Town

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