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Word in the Dust
Anne Emmons

The word rests, still, between a drumming
in my ears and a drone within the breast.
An uttered word made visceral in

the rhythm of pulse, rushing, its lifeblood
filling the chilled chasm carved by the speaker
to hold, perfectly, his word alone. Pure,

white torrents swirling down, deep, rising
again in a million drops of weightless mist.
Go and sin no more. No more, no more.

A word, impossible, inscrutable, once heavy
and dry as these stones held up against me,
lifted in this moment from ancient parchment,

exhaled in one divine sigh and graced
by a gaze, alive inside my veins. I remember
the fear-flooded spasm within one shoulder

while, huddled, my whole form froze. Hands
wrapped and clamped upon burning ears,
some frail barrier against that hatred,

whipping and hissing around me. Grief
gathered itself in one tumid drop, all fluid
salt and light falling into dust, intercepted

by the slow passage of a finger tracing its path,
etching through grime before my feet. A patient
movement wove some pattern, illegible yet exact,

expanded, erasing all random, salty stains while
silence met the angry air. Just then, his gentle
incision revealed my poor defense laid bare

prepared this vessel for the startling word
which would be birthed. My hands slip to catch
a cry, seal the space between lips and palms;

strange, this new sweetness within my skin.

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