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My Soul

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In the suburbs on a bike path that in
any other age would be a road roughed
halfway through some dark wood’s listening heart

two damp young men in suits sucked dry of light
walk stiffly and uncertain round a bend
in each left hand the black box of a book

They see me then spread out to fill the way
as sun blares down and dry May wind slaps
cheap loose plastic cloth against their shins

The thinner taller blond one greets me in
an earnest tone these days not often heard
and when I do not take his offered hand

surprised he pulls it back by jerked degrees
says I’m Elder White this is Elder Cole
We’d like to talk with you about

Then without my willing it this left palm
rises as if to let them read what life
has written there and with eyes as steady

as I always hoped they were I meet the
blue and shaking gaze of this elder who
is younger than my unborn son’s first son

and without warmth or cold not harsh or kind
say I do not want to talk about this
These boys awkward in cloth and flesh of men

stammer in relief their soft farewells
and what I would not let them save or name
stands long in silence looking after them
Source: Poetry (July/August 2009)

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This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

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My Soul

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