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Refrain

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It would never be possible for a stone, no more than for an airplane, to elevate itself toward the sun in jubilation. 
                                                      — Martin Heidegger

The dragonflies again; the last time seeing them
skim the river close
                                    to forgotten — their singing,
their shimmer — now remembered, becoming so much
flame;
            as tongues over the heads of the chosen in the child’s picture
book of Christ I learned by heart, descent and weight of after
the fact, the gift
                             the fork
between hope and vanity, the river that eats
itself  turned mirror broken into
                                                           light; the corpse
between the beloved’s good word
and the beloved
                              who having spoken was ever spoken
into being, lies, unspeaking, and as with any heaviness that lowers
then hovers, remains
                              inconceivable; so the letter given in stone, perfection
in fire;
love; all
               love’s failures; the winged animal
drops to the earth and is there buried in a hole where it digs
in the grit like the blade
                                            we left in the riverbed, adrift and cry-
shaped in the memory, both
that dim and that loud; though
                                                         no accosting why it
seems that way, everything ghost
of itself or everything made
                                                  of mythic proportion, the walker
sinking from the face of the waters, the dragon I
become when I talk to myself, what a belief
                                                                             is, terrifying
and relentless; I’ve never been
able to tell the difference;
                                              the brute and the apparition
in reflection speak at once — the rock and the rock’s light —
so that now the insect thrums
                                                      and it is surely
a kind of tenderness, an ODing in secret, turning into while turning
from the soul the animal raised
                                                        and devoured in dream; imagine,
the child’s wished-for surface gives and ripples up
                                                                                           to mouth
the perfect imprint, saying “aircraft” and there are aircraft, amen,
the walker is surrounded by flight on all sides;
                                                                                    the walker
walks without wings; see,

the recollection is flawless, turning wings of  jewels;
the recollection is absolute, swallows whole;

                                                                                 echoes;

and the dragon feasts; and the dragon flies again;

Source: Poetry (April 2014)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

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Refrain

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  • Gina Franco was born and raised in Clifton-Morenci, Arizona. She earned degrees from Smith College and from Cornell University. She is the author of The Keepsake Storm (2004), which includes poems that explore an uneasy alliance between the vehemence of memory and the surrealism of narrative, especially in light of language, place, faith, and identity.

    “Franco's poems,” Alice Fulton says, “enact the thrill of alchemy and metamorphosis, the riveting moment when changelings are betwixt-between, nightingale or monsters—it's hard to tell which, so vast and pliable and layered the scene. The poems bequeath a sense of place so deep it transcends particularity and arrives at the interior terrain of thought, the inscape of what-is.” Judith Kitchen, reviewing for the Georgia Review, writes that The Keepsake Storm’s “final sequence is so finely wrought, so nuanced and complicated, that it alone heralds an exciting new presence on the poetic stage.”
    Franco’s work is anthologized in A Best of...

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