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Vertical Before Dawn Strips the East

Crows caw unseen in the sticks of woods, songbirds gone south,
my Saint Anthony statue glows in the dark so I can find him
and somewhere in the broken day of London my sister

fastens her mouth on coffee on a break from management
at the children’s hospital, tosses her tuna-mayo
to doves in the stone park. Trout fattened on our brother’s

ashes in a small lake in the Poconos blow their clear-
streamed cantus firmus* through the waters, the gills’
respiratory surface a layer one cell thick.

Unsure of a precise destination, a walker stops to ask directions
to the city center. A black cab speeds toward Admissions.
My sister’s limbs coordinate, to point in the direction

the man came from. Not by that estuary but near a river’s
source, I live in a town of frank and friendly talk
where no one knew my brother. The planet effervesces

us; few live where we were born. Amid the northern quiet
of an inland stateside college town before the students
wake, I see children playing what we’d be when we grew up.

Blue-eyed and red-tempered, Tommy said a firetruck.
He was four or five, the decade Dick and Jane. Fireman
his siblings yelled, fireman. So he said he’d be a statue.

This poem first appeared in Stand magazine (2006), University of Leeds


Mary Gilliland

172 Pearsall Place, Ithaca, NY 14850
607 273 6637
Mary Gilliland is an internationally
published poet and
recipient of numerous awards.
You can find her work in AGNI,
Poetry, Stand, and
Moments ofthe Soul: Poems of
Mindfulness and Meditation


Metaphysical Times
Volume IX Number 3
Summer 2014


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