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Elizabeth Bolton



Robert Lowell presses a knuckle into his chin, fingers a sprouted shower of beard and his eyes peer round from the very tops of his circular frames. The volume is too heavy for one-handed reading – the sloppy brick would tear itself to chunks if left to hang. I’ll hold it like a hymnal then, closed. Not mine forever. Others will need it.   



We stare.



The smile blooms, his first, through a blackened crack in the lips.


Eyes locked I feed his black-and-white head 


with what I wish to be true


that cannot be proven untrue 


ask to bury myself in these cradles:


“No failure! Keep going! Only rung after rung after rung…” 


beneath his avuncular, reassuring gaze


Robert Lowell


not the poet but


the broad black-and-white face 


on a wise paper brick


my hands clutch


and hold out before me –


an offering of warm


regimented desperation.

the good / the bad


I won’t deny that it’s my fault. I let the thing in myself, through the hole I tore this morning. 


I tore clear through the membrane. It was an accident. I did it while I was tearing all my head hairs out, big tufts, handfuls of suburban lawn. Then I sprouted my arms to a V and raged, red-throated while I spun around and around. I drilled my feet into the ground while I spun, roared a fool’s roar while I spun, saw the path of things, the changeability of them while I spun and wider tore the bubblegum hole and louder spat my spit-choked cry and in came the good bright head-aching news 


that today is my birthday.



Smile, they urged with hungry nods, this is what fine looks like.  



And though I understood them


and tried to believe 


still I spun


and I spun


and dreamed I was finished. 

the good/the bad
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