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This poem is taken from PN Review 81, Volume 18 Number 1, September - October 1991.

Four Poems Mimi Khalvati


They lit lanterns down the Chine
in the summer season, or on Hallowe'en,
down winding steps through columbine
and burning bush, past narrow banks
of purple flag and up the final slope
that ended so abruptly at the gate.

It surfaces at moments, unlooked-for,
when the little crooked child appears
to bar your way: demanding no crooked
sixpence as she stands behind the stile
in her little gingham frock and the blood
she has in mind drawn behind her gaze.

Are you the Guardian of the Chine?
(Perhaps she needs some recognition.)
Of course she never talks.

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