Guns As Angel’s Wings, 1999, From the Series Soul Erased, Joyce Scott

Starry night as texture, a wisp above the grave
Of the pink boned dead child. Pink as

Implantation blood.
Faint. A small tan coffin,

Its corners like a black girl’s nails two years back.

The wisps might form themselves into an
Eye above his head, but don’t—
Lush glyph of smoke. Coffin stood up on the hill

Like a stolen stele. Little Rose Li

In the coffin’s womb—:

Guns make useless wings.
A shadow asleep in the hill in a contorted child’s
Pose. Made of the hill. Placental. Impression

& ash. Remember

Mortal that thou art dust. Remember you are mortal.
An umbrella’s point may emerge from the ground
Soon with erosion. A hand mirror.
Some other
Artifact.
Coffin double duties as headstone.
Rose Li, cherub, sturdy bones, stands inside as though for duel. Cowboys &
Emptiness—: childhood. Guns with no grip. Stone. This improbable not float.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a 2009 National Book Award finalist, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, as well as Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, a chapbook collaboration with Elizabeth Alexander. She is currently at work on The Coal Tar Colors, her third poetry collection, and Purchase, a collection of essays. She teaches at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

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