Repent, 1999, From the Series Soul Erased, Joyce Scott

The angel made of brush dance sinew

dances color up through strokes of muscle:

orange from arches up through knees

to mid thigh, red from hips to heart


out the shoulders spilling over into

wings, a faceless pink brown flutter

of head. Silvermask, left-handed, raises

his shooting arm sheepishly to show


where two extra arms have sprouted

from his shoulder. His chalkboard shadow

has expanded to hold his extra limbs, his

pelvis a spider that has grown two extra legs.


The bat sign points this side up. Meanwhile,

inside, an extra arm cuts through his spine.

Creature, creature, for conversation in dance

he dances atop an amorphous white world.

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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