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Epithalamion with Dogwood and Dog

Emma De Lisle


A boy zips by on a bicycle and rings his bell three times.

If even the womb can harbor a tumor, it is possible that memory

outgrows its purpose.

It is possible, May tells Henry, that everything will let me go.



is like that. It means there grows thicker


a veil of experience hanging about the body an

aura caked and layered over every sense so rarely

can I look even upon leaf without every of its cousins

ever I saw crawling it over as though I live I must


We have many hidden expectations of each other I must


be a series of trip wires tangling stumbling each another


you have seen its like before you have seen before now

you have lived ere you live it now there was once another and

time another there was once a moment there is a moment

that is not this one there was once a leaf

as though it were Memory who were Maker

as though Leaf I could Make


getting or gotten to a new point

of empathy with all her surroundings May

writes in her journal

she tells the dog she sits in her grandmother’s rocker today I

saw Henry he was in the dogwood bush he was flowering he

had so many arms you know almost a tree by now really


siren whistle slung low over the square arcing


Matter loves a still point but bears not its weight. Assume

a cavern

in fulfillment and its denial we read signs like

weddings not to mention speaking to one another and dreaming

words hang in the air and we fit our mouths to them

does the mind read first or the body breathe there was none

before you to love

never before had I been any lover

nay there before you none

Do not cross the sea for virtue May pronounces watching

the dog nosing her flank in the foxglove bed


pleasure is to be enmired in a glowing web of points to touch each one lightly


It was first just in the eyes of his brothers their two daughters soon

in their lips and feet fingernails even until a body anyone’s

body until everything started becoming became clearer to her

May rocks, thinking, wicker

is just like the mind

blue biplane silvering through an orange sky a pickup

half sunk in the road


we measure


by these things, but we don’t have to


It is a ruse, the Mind

telling Leaf, I write you

line over line. Ramify




Loving you is the only reason I feel I must reckon with my death,

May says to the dog.

The body loves its revolt on condition of mastery

time known by its feet

time unable but to be two

time only by its vow

When God makes a breath he repeats it; If I had words I would use them

to repeat my hands

He would have told the water

Go down from the mountain for you have seen my face

and must the water have run chattering blushing grown ever fuller carving

that countenance its memory down down

the rock meeting the dogwood tree in its abundance saying you must

change everything you must help me

leave off your branches

turn your roots over to the sky there comes a need


to flower them


Henry I never told you there are two times

that you make me miss my childhood: in my speech rendered

soundless and open an auguring of joy or of grief both times I

miss it aching age when I was so full of God and yet been none but His

each point wants a beauty that can rob it of all wisdom

each wanting sets all its kin humming


The way to summon a return is to write it.

A honey flush of knowing surging

—vivify—a shock of tributaries icy

may I salt my mouth I did not miss you but

dreamed that I did


youth is marked with a conviction that the moon turns straight from full to new


without a breath in between something vanishing in its becoming a fullness into its own expectancy

To leave home is to practice dying

but yet more so to return


I should have started writing it down a long time ago,

May writes, and then she stops.

I should have started writing a long time ago, she tells Henry.


It is memory, finally, that kills a man.

With satisfaction May thinks:

we read expectations like a text that confuses the words within and up

at the meeting he said hey for a minute there I thought I knew you

maybe something in the eye or the smile but hell you know what I don’t

think we’ve ever met but sit down here and don’t mind the dog that bell

gets her going stay a bit why don’t you it sure is nice to see a new face

And the tall man laughs takes off a flowered hat kicks his shoes against

the porch loosing some dirt says tell you what Henry there’s a whole lot

more where this came from


pleasure is to be to the lover a lost thing returned

but truth is like the clear eye of the roe

who does not wish to hide

who cannot hide and does not wish to

come back to me like this


To see something geometric as a sphere, May writes,

you must add infinite angles


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