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Flying Things

Now the spell
has broken,
the bleeding and
coalescing begun,
each day

soft and hard,
cold and warm,
nurturing and distant,
as the cold rain
gives a ghostly aura,

to everything,
moth, squirrel, bee,
fly, and bat providing
occasional reverberations

from the earth,
which soon will be
draped and piled
into abstraction,
while each snowfall—

like linen unfolded,
conjuring the domestic—
forces us further inward
into the fraught territories
of self and family,

instead of out into waves
at the beach or furrows
in the bronzing garden.
Fold one thousand
paper cranes on the kitchen table

and the spirits will cure you,
a friend once advised,
a thousand crane constructions
to complement, sustain,
and nurture me

when the multi-breasted
“good mother” is gone,
and the art of life
becomes, mostly,
the art of avoiding pain,

so the ceremonial
folding goes on,
each bird folded
and sewn to another,
beak to tail.

Henri Cole is the poetry editor of The New RepublicThis poem ran in the October 14, 2010, issue of the magazine.

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