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If a historic drought can’t get us to talk
about the taste of salt water,
the freedom to have a suntan,
I’d rather be a hard rock
than open my mouth.

I was terrified they’d be tired after
letting me leave the trees,
turn over the fresh pages
of notation, these leaves, a choreography for a job.

Instead, they spent the time reasoning
how a hand knots itself, how the sky holds
its heart intact, the sound
of the syllable god.

They’d rather be home, but it
reminds me of a heavy tiredness
and forgetting to have clean clothes, this
sense of the wonderful and I am
leaving all of them behind.

This all depends on their travelling, travelling,
travelling and not looking through me.
I am afraid I would miss them.

If I am the problem then I like it,
walking barefoot on a tender path
and falling asleep in the uncensored moment.

This is how you come back to see—
now, gods, stand up
and wring your two hands together
and Oh, just say to them, remember how to write a poem.


Kendra Bartell is currently an MFA candidate at UW Seattle. She received her BA from Cornell University and was awarded the Robert H. Chasen Memorial Award for Poetry in the Spring of 2012. Her poems have appeared in Mare Nostrum, Utter, So to Speak, Timber Journal, and elsewhere. 

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