Quai Aux Fleurs

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I want to just keep on smearing butter
& jam on toast with a blunt knife
and licking foam from my espresso cup,
while listening to Lizzy and Tricia practice French,
but I’m a realist. Even the songbirds have levels
of mercury in their blood and feathers. Somewhere,
in the brightness against a wall, a soldier crouches—
sand in his hair, juices dripping from his body.
Here there is joy, like a hole with greenness coming
out of it, but there night pushes against the cylinder
of his gun. He probably has a knife too, in the presence
of the incomprehensible, thrusting his belly
to the ground, feeling the strangeness throb in his blood
as he touches the scope to his cheek.

Henri Cole is the author of six collections of poetry, including Blackbird and Wolf (2007). He teaches at Ohio State University.
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