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This poem is taken from PN Review 239, Volume 44 Number 3, January - February 2018.

After You’d Gone Rachel Spence
The nights I stayed awake, listening to the snores of the old man
on the far side of the canal, lovers quarrelling on the bridge
below my window, their voices trapped, dilated,
by the echo chamber of the water’s throat.

                                      I’d leave the window wide, uncurtained.
Nothing but threshold. Confessional hour for exiles and angels.
Those who know that you can burrow into smell or light.
Your unwashed skin. The sullen blink of moss.

                                      Mystical protocols for liminal people.

Lick. Look. Lap.

In the blood-sugar dip of dawn, rat’s bony, spectral plop.
Ribcage of barge moaning as the rope pulls tight
against the swell.

                                      A time when dreams showed me to myself
as blind, a boy, staggering over the devil’s bridge, not knowing
that it marked the blue way out of here.
                                      I am learning that water has its own pulse,

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