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This poem is taken from PN Review 237, Volume 44 Number 1, September - October 2017.

Neither Near Nor Far Away Judith Willson
per il mar senz’onde e senza lidi,
le péste né vicine né lontane.

                                             – Giovanni Pascoli, ‘Nella nebbia’

You are thinking about hens,
how they bubble like kettles,
how they hitch up their skirts
and scuttle like busy women.

Your grey sisters whisper
you must not be disturbed.
Your good household women.

Hens with their old red eyes,
their sideways calculations.
They do not miss a single grain of maize,
scrabbling like women in the market
who have only one coin left.

How long ago
a circle of girls in the evening, heads bent,
tearing open papery husks, songs

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