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This poem is taken from PN Review 260, Volume 47 Number 6, July - August 2021.

‘Berries’ and other poems Linda Zisquit
Not Now

Nabokov said language
has many forms of
quiet kindness, refusals
of stark alternatives:

never can mean not always
and impossible
may mean not now.
How many times have I

opened a letter in search
of the hopeful word
and found only its shadow,
its empty promise.

And yet I keep reading
the lines to find
another possibility
in the very syllable

already spoken,

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