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This poem is taken from PN Review 252, Volume 46 Number 4, March - April 2020.

Odyssey Response Vahni Capildeo
I. Words, take wing
Words, take wing, fly commonly among all people
who have power of health and employment over us;
go like the sparrows rife on summer streets of a holy
island; unlearn any fear; flitting, bring to mind
light, and how quickly light fades; bring to mind life,
comfort in houses, fragile as windows onto space.
Words, take wing, as if lawyers were angels, as if death
were a paper doll in a set of identical
paper dolls, an infinite set of paper doll kings
of terror, cancelled by a gentle fiery sword.
Sometimes, words, you launch in many lovely languages; yet,
before you begin to fly, you are misrecognized,
like an owl entering a superstitious person’s
open-plan room being beaten to death, Athena’s
wise bird struck down, bloody feathers everywhere,

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