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You’ve seen it before but never in morning:

the pink tinged ridge, a canyon in dawning,

a river of pulse beneath it,

alive even as she dies in her dreaming, alive

and seemingly speaking. Listen.

This is the story not categorized, alphabetized,

the title you’ll never see alongside Broken

Mickey Mouse Ring, Age 5, or Bicycle Accident,

Second Grade, this is the uncharted waters

of her and you try to imagine it, the way

it tells you in that still-girl voice,

I didn’t think I had a choice, and you can see it:

that rage red stain; in truth,

you could always see it

reflected in her eyes, her silence and you know

how later is, that now you’ll start to see

it in every black winged fledgling girl

in every curb shadow and you’ll be thinking

my god, who touched her, who made her

hide in a corner, pick up a razor,

how thick was the boulder they rolled

before her, that they never heard her words?

My God, you think, this beautiful day

almost never happened at all and all

you really want is to stop thinking about it,

to start the morning over, somewhere else

on that landscape of her, all you really want

is the person you think she is,

without all the yesterdays and you know

how yesterday is, that haunting voice never shuts up

unless your hand is over it,

so you grasp her wrist, awaken her

with a kiss, but you cannot forget

the river that turns, burns beneath your fingers,

silent but alive. Oh, still so alive.

*IBPC 3rd place, Nov. 2004

about the author

Susan Culver lives in Colorado and is the editor of Lily. Her poetry and short fiction have appeared in a number of publications, including The Pedestal, Tryst and PoetrySuperHighway.