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Ichor

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The father died and then the mother died.
                  And you were so addicted

to not feeling them, you told no one about the clamp
                  inside—

around the vena cava. Dam against the blood's
                  trash—

But I've got you now. Trussed at the waist
                  in a wooden chair,

odor of spice and
                  oranges, clove-pierced, incandescent stores

                  to light our lab's decor—

Here. I saved this just for you.
                  Beetle-cleaned and sharp at the tip, the finger that shook

in your set face
                  from the hand that smoothed your hair—

Make a fist.
                  Wrap the tube round your fleshy arm, pull the black rubber

tight—
                  will we finally

see the sludge of their accumulated mouths, ah, you've said,
                  how they poisoned me...

Pierce in
                  with your mother's finger-bone, taste the slow up-well—

Sweet.
                   Sweet. Surge ambrosial and clear—

A honey, an ichor.
                   From those who waited long

                   in your veins.

Source: Poetry (June 2007)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2007 issue of Poetry magazine

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Ichor

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  • Poet Dana Levin grew up in California’s Mojave Desert and earned a BA from Pitzer College and an MA from New York University.
    Levin’s collections of poetry include In the Surgical Theatre (1999), Wedding Day (2005), and Sky Burial (2011). Selecting Levin’s manuscript for the American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize, Louise Glück praised the work as “sensuous, compassionate, violent, extravagant.” In the Surgical Theatre also won the John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares, the Witter Bynner Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the PEN/Osterweil Award.
    Levin’s free-verse, image-driven poems grapple with the legacies of both Confessionalism and Language poetry by engaging and questioning the self, while using line breaks, punctuation, and syntax as primarily sound-driven tools. In a 2008 interview with the Kenyon Review, Levin noted, “[F]or me, imagination is a transpersonal force. Its products can come unbidden; when asked to be employed it is...

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