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This poem is taken from PN Review 145, Volume 28 Number 5, May - June 2002.

Five Poems Valerie Duff

Plateau

I never learned how to tread
or float, but clung to bridle and bit

of Phaeton's horses, hard
but not heartless, as if to warrant

the plateau where the inner ear stops
spinning, and barometers

pulse out a stable surf. When asked what words
I spoke, I'll tell onlookers

that I put my hands around the air,
my lifeline, yanked to be pulled out

of the cold Atlantic,
hair matted

as if peat stuck the strands
from some ore-filled mountain shaft.

But I'll never tell the cut I wore,
...


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