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A hawk circles the wild fig,
violets bloom in the shade.
It is a day no brighter than others.
Still, words bring their own light
and we turn our faces blindly toward them.
Trying to read Sappho's honeycombed and eroded texts
is like listening to my mother tell of her life during the war--
everything left out is what we need to know.
Is it "meteor" or "meter,"
"respect" or "respite?"
Are we riding over or under the wave?
Scatter and fled, covered with road dust, lost in transit
ploughed by the shear forces of wind and exile
decipher this erased surface, the scarred geologic
strata of memory
stories without a beginning, middle or end
--unknown face half devoured by shadow
--patterns of a carpet or carved armoire
--forgetting the word for mulberry: szeder
--fruit that stains your hands black
--the scent of wool after rain
--across the horizon flashes of something like lightening
let the night fall in on itself
All I could learn about the war and her exile
came from the pressure of frozen foods shaping silence,
the acute, negative space outlined by TV dinners with their
aluminum compartments and satellite patterend melmac
dinnerware leaning into the unspoken
Cartography of exile
where we pursue not the deer, but the trail
of her absence [which tells us more] tracking
not the object of desire, but the entire field--
fierce and unmarked wilderness that sustains her
Meredith Stricker is the author of Alphabet Theater, a collection of performance poetry and visual art forthcoming from Wesleyan University Press. She is an awrd-winning mixed media artist and writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications, including Conjunctions, Chain, Five Finger Review, and The Iowa Review, as well as anthologies from Norton and Milkweed Press. Her collection of essays and images, Things that Shine, received a grant from The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. Muse, a collection of poetry, was a finalist for The National Poetry Series Award. She served as an editor for the literary journal HOW(ever), and now works as a partner in an architecture and art studio on California's central coast