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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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Jungle

Now a flutter of embarrassed, back-of-the-throat laughter
from the husk woman clinging to her chest full of books—

she answers the librarians' question about her absence
by telling their sympathy of her heart, which has stalled

and startled, like a sleeper who dreams of falling
and flails awake to the thrum of pulse and darkness,

and which has wrapped her head-to-toe in this thick cloth
of careful slow attention to the body's eccentricities:

“The doctors want me to slow down a bit, for now.”

Then the bashful laugh again, as if it might
shore up the weight of decaying chemistry,

or because she fears she has been impolite,
reminding them their bodies in failure will intrude

on plans and patterns, jungle beasts
suddenly at the turning of a birthday—

out of place here, the body that has been stalking her,
now padding quicker along the bookshelves' high storage.

 

                                                                      - James Owens