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Poetry #435
(published May 21, 2009)
It Takes a Thief to Know a Thief
by Lisa Zaran
My father once said
to pin an angel to a tree
one must know the exact point
between wing and celestial body.

It was a special evening for us,
my father being dead and I
the sole witness to his reappearance.
Every minute he spoke
without tongue, motion could be heard
lapping against earthly obstacles.

Most people, he assured me,
are too afraid to listen.
I had buttered and floured the cod
and was frying it in a pan
on the stove. The smell of it
seeping into the potatoes,
the air surrounding us.

He spoke of breath
and how even the dead have certain
tricks for inhaling and exhaling.
So we no longer have a pair of lungs,
I could sense his emptiness shrug,
doesn't matter. If a soul is thirsty
enough, he said, he'll find a way
to reach through the pickets of time
and steal some air if he has to.

I ate in silence.
He waited, far from the man
I knew him as, still I could sense
his impatience. I sought no affection
nor did I try to dress his wounds.
I simply kissed his cheek with mine,
and felt the velvet slip of breath
like a hole through my chest when he left me.

Lisa Zaran is a poet and essayist, the author of six collections, and founder/editor of two online poetry journals.

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