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an excerpt from Troubling Accents

To show you wisteria knotted like snakes,
Dirtclods you could eat, burnt air
Heavy enough to prop up porches, exactly
What a crowbar could do to a windshield.

To show you how to listen, a way to recognize
The absence of sound when the dead travel
Among pussy willows like slow-moving katydids,
Why the wind is no colder than my drawl.

No, more than that, I wanted you
To stick your arm out the window
Use spit to test the sky for rain
So you could learn the way and know

Whether or not to worry about fixing
Your face and fussing with your hair.
I wanted the midday sun to steal
Back that pale band of skin

About your wrist. The one
You cling to like it's your life,
So you could have some idea of the attention required
To wash and season, the time necessary to coax

Flavor from a kettle of greens. All this I wanted
To let you see, so you could have a notion of my place
Among something more clan than tribe,
So you could understand the quiet

Rage of my teeth and nails on your neck,
Mimicking the scrape and spark of a blade against stone as
I pinned you against the car door, cussed your name,
That night that stretched away

Like a tarmac of crude stares. Hot
Mournful unalterable. Right before
I said It's best you leave. Now,
Go. And your voice came back

Full of silence and trees and clear, clear water
Baby, I'm not a tease. I wanted to walk with you
Down gravel roads, past the military base,
Up the swell to the neon cross, show you

That very sparrow you've heard me rasp about.
No hustling, no chicanery. I wanted you
To know the slow corruptions
I would have to face. Every hell

I would have to divorce and embrace
Just to be with you. I don't know how we failed
Each other with this sharecropper's lack
Of imagination.

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