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Ronda Piszk Broatch

Though the Woods Seemed Full of Nothing

–with a line by Anne Caston

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Once she owned a key, an asylum of whisky. The troubles
began when she began to disappear, thinking destiny
was really a failure of forethought, of choice between

romance or the other side of some parallel universe.
Her ideal affair would be a cave with teeth, not a dearth
of sex. In the dream she shot her mother, but it took years
for her mother to die. Thankful for the wall between them

for seeing beyond the father’s supersuit, his axe, the lack
of red cape. Imagine all the red tape just to escape
into wakefulness, grateful for the falling away
of all that fur. Once on the path she looks at her nails

painted the color of cover-up, of dirt. Possession
is the basket of apples, the giant sleeping in the next
room, how her pricked finger shines like a new miracle.

Passing the Bear

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I'm pulling on my skin of bear.
How many years must we stay afloat?
My flesh rubbed raw, bonecold and sere.

I’ve no mother but you, my dear
distant absence, you'd have me smote
for skulking in my skin of bear.

I dreamt you shot and saw you spare
no sinew to line this fine rude coat,
its flesh chafed raw, boneless, sere.

The day he died, my father's chair
became your throne; your lot his debt.
I'm pulling on my skin of bear,

my bone rattle, my coarsening hair.
We ghost and smoke, we moan, we mute,
our flesh rubbed raw, bonecold and spare.

For when you keen, so drowned and bare
I’ll keep a rope in my passage boat.
I'm pulling on my skin of bear
my flesh rubbed raw, bonecold and sere.

What the Photographer Saw

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The man in the photo, blown up 10x, bore witness
to acceleration in relation to silence and weight of cement

cradling his feet. In the blue light of winter, water is a distraction.
Sometimes, nothing is so concrete it can’t accept the sledge

hammer. The brighter the light, the more distorted the incoming image
to fish below. The man remains an integral part of our earth,

his remains anchored, necktie wavering in undersea currents,
sandwiched between cold and colder. Before the lens he was

only a dust speck in a corner of sky. Even ships wrecked and found
years later don’t lie. Here is the suit, still on its hanger. Black boots

in repose. Wrong is oxygen’s lack, absence of sunlight. Think of him
in your prayers, know that routine doesn’t always mean repeat,

nor does it suggest the grief of women. Why is it only in dreams
we learn what we’ve always known, are given the keys to Atlantis?

➥ Bio