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Phial: Elizabeth Bishop at Age 6

I will not be that which scatters,
that which exists in pieces.
My mother's mind, my father's
body, whole as flocked gulls
working to tear mussel
from shell, an indeterminate
cluster of white on the break-
water's slick black. Only

to blast skyward at a child's
windmilling approach, wings
beating air. Loss: that thunder.

Ailments range my bed table,
a menagerie of glass phials.
The swell of each vessel's hull
a print of its blower's breath,
contained. On my back,
air sloshes tidal in the chest's
basin. Lungs push breath
out and take it back like a girl
swinging. I want
to house its current, to be

its phial, bright sprig of cardinal
flowering the bed.

Often, I think, my body tries 
to shake me off, a long tan
tangle of housecoat.
I gather its folds about me,
its indiscretions: skin's dry scales
and jerking dance of limb.

Too weak to walk, I cannot
learn these new orbits, the path
from armoire to bed
to window. At night, I click
my flashlight off and on,
a headland beacon blinking

I am here. I am here. I am here.
Posted 04/01/13
from The Miniature Room
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